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Tue, Mar 05, 2013
The Straits Times
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Is romance important?
by Sumiko Tan

My romantic quotient seems to have dropped. Is it age or has marriage made me complacent?

H surprised me with a Valentine's Day present this year.

It was lingerie, and from La Perla no less.

He had already gone to work by the time I woke up on Feb 14. As is my routine, I went into his bedroom to check if he had, as usual, left me a note to say goodbye.

A paper bag was on the table instead.

I unwrapped the present inside.

Nice, I thought, smiling with approval. It was in a deep maroon shade, had an interesting design that took me a bit of time to figure out, and was the right size too.

There was a card with it. He had drawn it himself - several hearts and a string of funny messages.

How sweet, I thought. So romantic.

But I felt a bit discomforted too.

I hadn't thought to get him anything for Valentine's Day.

Did I have to give him something now? Like what? And would I find the time to get it? It was going to be a busy day at work and it was unlikely I'd be able to nip out at lunchtime to go shopping.

In any case, I'm not a believer of Valentine's Day and have never celebrated it.

I see it as a conspiracy by businesses to get people to pay obscene amounts for flowers which won't last beyond a week, hideous teddy bears, useless candles and silly heart-shaped chocolate.

I was surprised H gave me a present because in the earlier two Valentine's Day we shared after we got married, he had given me just a card (he got nothing from me.)

I felt a bit pressured to return his extravagant gift but was at a loss as to what to get.

I am not romantic.

Or, to put it more accurately, I used to be romantic but no longer am.

I don't mind being on the receiving end of a romantic gesture of course (bring on the presents), but I don't seem to have the patience and energy to go through the rigmarole of romance.

Whenever H suggests we go for a "nice dinner", for example, I try to dissuade him.

I don't want to dress up, I groan. Dinner might last forever. Let's just do takeaway and eat while we watch a DVD at home. We can kill two birds with one stone.

As I write this column, I get a spam e-mail with the header "5 Most Romantic Places To Go On Holiday".

It lists Hue in Vietnam, Casablanca in Morocco, Rotura in New Zealand, Siem Reap in Cambodia and Hokkaido in Japan as places I should "whisk" my loved one now that Valentine's Day was over, so as to "keep the romance going".

But when I travel, romantic atmosphere is low on my list. I prefer Best Places To Eat And Shop.

Has age lowered by romantic quotient? Have I become so crusty I can no longer display sweet and innocent outbursts of affection, which is what being romantic is about?

Or has marriage made me so complacent about love and being loved that I can no longer be bothered to do "special" things with him and for him?

It didn't use to be like this.

When I was in my twenties and thirties, I was a hopeless romantic, idealistic and sentimental.

I spent huge chunks of my life choosing the most appropriate cards and penning the most heartfelt messages to objects of affection.

I kept boxes of romantic mementoes and envelopes containing moulding, disintegrating, dead flowers. I created scrapbooks filled with photos and cinema stubs.

For a period in my life, I painstakingly packed picnic baskets - with wine glasses even though it was just fruit juice we drank - for morning walks by the sea.

I was taken in by this grand idea of love as self-sacrificial, larger than life, tempestuous, painful, all-encompassing and Super Romantic.

I was fixated by the TV dramas of Taiwanese romance queen Qiong Yao. I wanted a love like Titanic's Jack and Rose (minus the drowning.) I sobbed at the final scene of Brokeback Mountain.

So now that I have found the special one and have married him, why is it that I seem to have lost many of those romantic impulses? H is definitely the more romantic one in the marriage.

Beyond leaving me a letter every morning (sometimes there's even a drawing or poem), he remembers birthdays and anniversaries and makes them special.

If he prepares my breakfast on weekends, he takes pains to make it look nice - like creating a smiley face with bits of fruit on top of my pancake.

I'm a cold fish in comparison.

I asked him to list all the romantic things I've ever done for him.

After thinking like forever, he came up with: You like to bring me a glass of water when I'm watching TV.

He thought some more then added: You also bring me fruit.

He finally offered this: One time you surprised me by waiting by the road for me when I came home late. And you weren't angry I was late.

I look back at all the presents I've given him - clothes, wallet, toiletries. Practical, certainly, but hardly romantic.

Whether it's a big gesture (proposing on top of the Eiffel Tower) or a small one (slipping a love note into his wallet), the aim of being romantic is to make your loved one feel more loved, special and appreciated.

For the gesture to have a truly romantic effect, it must have certain qualities - an element of surprise, extravagance, fun, impracticality and even craziness.

Couples are usually romantic in the first flush of a relationship. Marriage eats into it, for sure. You're busy. You're tired. You fall into a routine. You take each other for granted. You prefer your iPad's company to his.

Marriage counsellors say a little romance can add spark to marriage. Sweet gestures of affection let couples feel more emotionally close.

Still, I tell H, being romantic isn't everything. I've known romantic men who turned out to be jerks. Similarly, I believe one can love another person deeply without necessarily wanting to go for candlelight dinners or moonlight walks (think of the mosquitoes) with him.

In any case, I didn't get him a Valentine's Day present this year.

But I made an effort to go home earlier from the office that evening.

The present was much appreciated.

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readers' comments

Very 诗情画意


我是天空裡的一片雲 偶爾投影在你的波心
你不必訝異 更無須歡喜 在轉瞬間消滅了蹤影

你我相逢在黑夜的海上 你有你的 我有我的 方向
你記得也好 最好你忘掉 在這交會時互放的光亮

An Odd Chance

I am a lone cloud in the sky, drifting.
Casting by chance a shadow,
On your heart, rippling.
Do not be dazed;
Do not be amazed,
By the shadow of a fleeting face.

We encounter in a pitch dark sea,
Your course, whatever that be,
Is not mine, however.
ItÂ’s good to remember,
Better still to forget,
The radiance of our encounter!

Posted by lao.leeky on Tue, 12 Mar 2013 at 00:41 AM
Roses are red....
Violets are blue....
Some men have no clue...
Why women stick to them like glue...:eek:

Roses are red....
Violets are blue...
Lemons are sour...
So are you !:p????
Posted by Tsunamiw4ve on Tue, 12 Mar 2013 at 00:19 AM
It all depends. For some when they see an Ang Moh, there's no need for romance. Just open wide wide like Joanne Peh.
Posted by Rraymond on Tue, 12 Mar 2013 at 00:15 AM

and a sg 31yr old teacher wanted both from her 13yr old student. :D
Posted by sghunk888 on Tue, 12 Mar 2013 at 00:12 AM

Romance = kissing & kunnilingus.
Sex = penetrating and ejaculating.

Hope this helps lah.
Posted by Trouser Press on Tue, 12 Mar 2013 at 00:10 AM

cannot view your pic leh..:eek:

oh can liao.....:p
Posted by sghunk888 on Tue, 12 Mar 2013 at 00:07 AM
Posted by LouisEcel74 on Mon, 11 Mar 2013 at 23:30 PM
And children are important to priests :D
Posted by pokarrse on Mon, 11 Mar 2013 at 23:24 PM
romance is important to women.

but sex is important to men. :p
Posted by sghunk888 on Mon, 11 Mar 2013 at 23:22 PM
Is like asking: is eating fruits healthy? :D
Posted by pokarrse on Mon, 11 Mar 2013 at 23:11 PM

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