What is romance?
“Romance is the pleasurable feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love,” says the American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition.
Romance can be a bouquet of hand-picked daffodils or a buggy ride through Paris at twilight.
During the depression-era 1930s, our grandparents found romance over a home-cooked meal and a Duke Ellington song on the radio.
It’s unfortunate that we’ve allowed Hollywood and Harlequin paperbacks to hijack romance for us. It’s sad that so many turn up their noses at viable relationships because “they didn’t hear bells” or “our first meeting wasn’t that magical love-at-first-sight moment.”
Marriages built on these dreamy fictions are mere sand castles, destined to wash away during the very next high tide. If we don’t straighten out these convoluted ideas for our children, the divorce rate will climb ever higher; until today’s young people simply conclude that marriage is just not worth the bother.
Some of us say, “commitment.”
American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition, says “commitment is the act of committing, pledging, or engaging oneself; a pledge or promise; obligation.”
We find this definition wooden. We say commitment is an unconditional resolve to stick with a person or activity, no matter what. It’s a rare occasion when committed people give up, but when they do, when they’ve exhausted every resource and are forced to admit defeat, they feel deeply failed.
A useful metaphor is the military strategy of burning down a bridge after crossing it, leaving no option for retreat.
In 1967, the Israeli army, outnumbered 50 to 1 by enemy nations, was asked how it was able to triumph against such impossible odds. The simple answer was “ein breirah, there is no alternative.”
A committed person has no alternative—no way out. Retreat is not an option. He or she must fight to make the thing work as though life itself were at stake (and if it’s marriage we’re talking about, that’s not an exaggeration).