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Is Romance Merely a Work of Fiction?

March 20, 2016

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how old school Romance stories have changed in recent years? What was once framed as a simple boy meets girl story has devolved into a story of how a married woman begins an affair or how a boyfriend begins sleeping with his fiance’s best friend.

Go ahead check Hulu, Netflix or any other streaming service and read the movie details of their romance section if you think I’m wrong. What we’ve known as romance in the classical sense has morphed into an endless stream of stories heavy on the sexual component yet severely lacking in the actual romance.

Why are we so cynical when it comes to romance these days? Is this a case of life imitating art or do the depictions of love and romance we entertain ourselves with an accurate account of what love and marriage are truly like?

We can’t get too caught up in the celebrity culture because they will lavish a lot of focus on extravagant weddings and insane rings only to end that relationship in the midst of beginning a new one with a co-star, which they’ll always deny being involved with until they go official.

Many people who don’t believe in real romance will argue that concepts like monogamy, in general, is perhaps outdated and that we aren’t meant to be connected to only one person. Some even argue that this is why monogamy doesn’t work, or this is why both men and women cheat in relationships.

I’m admittedly old-fashioned, unapologetically so, and I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with the concept of monogamy or the institution of marriage. I believe the reason relationships fail is due to the lack of communication and commitment from the people involved.

I think that we fixate on entertaining ourselves on too many familiar themes of what not to do in relationships that we forget what works. There are a lot of men and women out there that still believe in romance, but the only problem is many of them are squandering their efforts at romance with people who aren’t as committed as they are.

How many of you out there still believe in the concept of a soul mate? Are you satisfied that we’ve commercialized the concept of marriage with Reality shows like The Bachelor and Bachelorette? Why have we compromised real romance in favor of convoluted tales of lust and passion?

I was visiting some friends one day, and they shared with me a romantic story about how her daughter’s boyfriend (now husband) had proposed while on some exotic vacation. The ring which her daughter proudly showed was beautiful, as was the daughter, the bride herself.

Hearing the story of how they met and their storybook proposal and wedding reminded me of a romantic tale I hadn’t thought of in a long time. I thought about it for a moment and decided to share with them an old-fashioned tale I’ve come to call, “The Story of the Ring.”

It all begins with a young 5-year-old girl who lived in a far away Caribbean Island paradise. One day her family went on an outing to one of the beaches close to their home. Under her parents watchful eyes,  the little girl snorkeled to her heart’s content in the shallow seaweed beds and coral reefs off the shore. While searching through the sea bottom, the little girl came across what she believed to be a piece of treasure long discarded among the rocks, sea shells, and trash that ends up on the ocean floor. In the little girl’s eyes the small sand encrusted circle, which looked much like an old rusted bottle cap, represented a long lost treasure waiting for her arrival and discovery!

Excited at finding what she believes to be a valuable piece of treasure she quickly takes it to show her mother. “Look what I found,” says the little girl, as she hands her piece of treasure to her mother who inexplicably throws it back into the ocean! “Stop picking up trash from the water,” her mother calmly exclaims without actually examining what her five year old daughter had just handed her!

With her mouth and eyes open wide in five-year-old horror, the little girl watched as her beautiful treasure fell from its high arch path in the air, and quietly, yet abruptly, disappeared once again in the water; right over the seaweed beds that she just came from. Though the little girl’s heart initially sank, the shock quickly morphed into a fierce determination to prove her mother wrong. She immediately walked accross the sand while putting on her mask and her snorkle, never taking her eyes off the landing mark of her lost treasure. She swam back in the exact direction where she saw her treasure land after her mother threw it, and quickly embarked upon the arduous task of finding her treasure once again.

After snorkeling in circles over the seaweed beds and searching for a while the little girl once again found her treasure piece. This time to avoid another mishap, she poked a hole through the center of the circle and cleaned off part of the encrusted sand clinging on to the yellow metal after years of being in the sand and the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. She revealed her treasure piece to be a 14kt gold man’s wedding ring and not the bottle cap that her mom was convinced it was!

“I told you I found a piece of treasure!” the proud and determined little girl exclaimed as both her mother and father looked on in shock!

As the little girls parents examined the ring they wondered what to do with it. The little girl’s father, and a few other family members, tried on the ring, but it was never a good fit.  Not knowing what to do the little girl’s mother decided to just keep the ring safe for her daughter as she grew up. As if taken from a fairy tale, the little girl decided then that it would be a gift for the man she was destined to marry, who would undoubtedly fit the ring.

A man, whom the little girl decided, would bear a surname beginning with the letter ‘A’ just like her name. It had to be, or how else would one explain the small birthmark in the shape of an ‘A’ that had been on her belly for as long as she could remember? She had even decreed this to her parents… much to her father’s dismay. That was a huge order from such a small girl… this man had to fit the ring AND his surname must begin with the letter ‘A’. With the years passing by, both the ring and the birthmark became a distant memory.

As time moved on the little girl grew up and eventually moved away from her beloved Caribbean paradise to a far away land much different from her native Island. Whether it was by chance or perhaps fate, she encountered an unassuming young man one day after offering a neighbor, with no transportation of her own, a ride to visit the church where the neighbor’s mother was attending that day.

That seemingly accidental encounter led to the young lady eventually joining that church and in the process getting to know that quiet, unassuming young man. As time progressed, she began to feel as if it was indeed fate and not mere coincidence that led to every circumstance that brought her to this particular young man whose surname began with an ‘A’. There was only one thing left. She called her mother and asked her to send that ring that she had found all those years ago.

When the young woman explained to him about the significance of the ring, he was a bit overwhelmed and nervous.  He wondered what it would mean to her if the ring didn’t fit his finger.

As if it was indeed ordained by God the ring fit his finger, and the two were married and began a new tale as husband and wife. Perhaps the story of the ring may sound like a fairy tale or some corny, old-fashioned notion of what romance is supposed to be about, but all I can tell you is that for the past 20 years, and counting, that ring has rarely left my finger. One of the few times that it has is when a friend of my wife has asked to see it and asked us to tell them the story of how she found it and how it came to be on my finger.

I always tell people who have asked us about it that the ring holds no significant financial value. It is a plain wedding band with no markings other than ’14k’ inscribed on the inside of the band. In spite of its simplicity, what it symbolizes to me, to us, is priceless and can’t be measured in monetary value.

Call us crazy for believing that romance is real or believing that God orchestrated the events that led to her finding the ring, and eventually finding me. Perhaps someone just discarded the ring and she found it all those years ago? Don’t you consider it romantic that someone can come to treasure something that someone perhaps lost or simply discarded?

Perhaps I’m just an old romantic but in a day and age in which so many people devalue, not only the concept of romance but marriage in general, I find it refreshing to see people who value marriage and old fashioned concepts like romance.

Romance is not bringing candy or flowers after a fight; romance isn’t even Valentine’s Day. The concept of romance is remembering to value and make time for your spouse despite the kids, the job, and all other responsibilities! Romance is taking the time to write those letters like you once did when you were trying to win her heart because that same effort is what it takes to keep her heart.

The concept of romance is not merely a work of fiction to me, so I only hope that people can wade through the muddled depictions of lust and convoluted tales of passion and discover what a real romance is like.

Take it from an old fashioned hopeful romantic who after 20 years of marriage still writes love letters to his wife. Romance is not merely a work of fiction; it’s a forgotten art of the collection and thoughts and feelings we share with the people we love.

The gesture of romance may have been mainstreamed, some say commercialized by Valentine’s Day, but the sentiment of true romance is timeless and needs no reason.

The story of the Ring is the real life account of how my wife found my wedding ring when she was a little girl, but the true story of our romance is told in knowing everything we’ve had to overcome and endure in the 20 years we’ve loved, laughed, cried and healed together.

I encourage everyone to keep the romance going in your own relationships and create your own tales of love.

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