Roses are red violets are blue, some poems rhyme, but this one doesn’t. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day (unless you’re reading this after today… but you’ll figure that one out) and in this modern age I’ve noticed that this breaks people down into two categories. There are those that embrace the notion of the romance of it all and enjoy the whole flowers and dinner date thing. Then there are those who dismiss the occasion as just another Hallmark day…or as the cynic in me might describe them, men and women.
Now many men will be up in arms at this slight on our sex but don’t forget, I am one of that very group and this is a colourful slight I don’t necessarily want to paint myself with. There are exceptions to every rule isn’t that what they say? It is peculiar but of course for me, love is a very particular creature that it took me a long time to get to grips with. Romance? That’s a horse of an entirely different colour.
There is a common complaint that men don’t understand women. I’m very old fashioned and I think that when men seek the answer to the question ‘what do women want?’ they are asking the wrong question. In many ways that is the foolishness of people in general. We often fall down not because we can’t find the solution to our problems, but because we are trying to solve the wrong problem. Men foolishly play at romance. Sometimes they are trying to answer the question when in fact they should be acting on a very particular instinct.
When boy meets girl or man meets woman, there is a tangible excitement in the air. Behaviour is focussed and considered. If you are lucky enough to fall in love, those early days create a wonderful, electric connection and at that stage you would do nothing to jeopardise the way you feel. Why then do I see people disrespect and dishonour the one they supposedly love after years in a relationship? You would think that time together with the one you love, would only deepen and grow that love and respect. The answer is relatively simple.
New lovers are learning about each other. There is a point where trust has to be exchanged and I am talking here about a very special trust. At some point one must open up their vulnerability to the other, to offer it up with the potential that it may be trodden on if the other person so choses. Sometimes one person says something mean or hurtful and it is at that precise moment, that you have to offer up this type of vulnerability. If love is to flourish then there and then you tell the offending loved one, that what they have said or done is hurtful and furthermore – explain why. There has to be a clear understanding that repeating this action will cause you hurt and then you wait. What an incredible act of bravery this takes, don’t you think? To put your hand in the lion’s mouth as it were and to risk everything to win everything, to risk everything to lose everything – and therein lies the rub.
The fear is that you will sound foolish or that they will reject you for this in which case maybe this is the point – nice and early on that you decide this is not true love but something less. The danger is that they take your vulnerable admission and store it away for use later on – in which case – I refer you back to the previous statement. Of course some do this instinctively and get bitten and they do say once bitten…But it doesn’t mean there is a better way. Truth requires virtue and virtue brings truth. Being afraid is perfectly fine, being brave comes at a price sometimes.
In reality most people let the little remark that stings pass. They let the jibe or the taunt that creeps in with familiarity to go unaddressed. But they store it up, hold it inside to fester and then they begin to collect ammunition of their own, realising that someday they will need it. That cannot be the measure of love. To quote Leonard Coen (I don’t do that too often) ‘all I’ve ever learned from love, was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya.’ I think that perfectly sums up some relationships even when both parties genuinely love each other. The only problem with this of course is that those bullets soon take their toll and that is not the way to live with love.
Mine is a very male perspective of course, but it is not to say that at least some of this doesn’t apply to women. What do women want? Like I say that is the wrong question. I finally figured out many years ago what it was that I wanted, perhaps late in life but later is better than never. What I wanted it turns out was the same kindness, love and affection that we all want – it’s not rocket science. To get it I had to give it because love is a two way street. Love is it seems about romance after all. Not the Hallmark, box of chokies type of romance but real romance. Telling that special someone just how important they are to you. Touching their hand and their hearts by actions and words not just on Feb 14 but every day.
I never understand why people in general intentionally say hurtful things to others. By extension I absolutely don’t get that you would intentionally be hurtful to the person you supposedly love the most. The flotsam and jetsam that results from simple harsh words, cruel intentions and thoughtless behaviour, cost people more than the price of kindness , support, encouragement and tenderness. The price of carelessness with the hearts of the ones we prize the most is our happiness.
I wear my heart very much on my sleeve and anyone who knows me well enough to call me their friend will know this of me. It would be difficult to write as I do if I didn’t understand the hurt and pain of love, as well as the joys and benefits it brings. Romance is what you do because you want to do it. Wanting to do something romantic is not about Hallmark. It is about touching someone’s heart not just in the early days but every day.
I dare say you would be stretching things to describe what I write as romantic. The Darkly Wood series for example, sits nearer horror in the reader’s eyes, yet the books are in fact at their core, stories about courage and bravery, with love as the connecting ultimate thing of importance. I couldn’t write of such a thing if I didn’t feel it and I am lucky enough to feel it every day. I have love in my heart, romantic love, delicate, delicious and delightful.
From the moment I found that special gift, my darling Joanna has been responsible for keeping it safe, nurturing that love and tending to my heart as I have her heart. It is a responsibility I never take lightly. I know what it means to say that she is my heart because I know how that feels. I am a lucky man. Somewhere in all the messes I have made throughout my life, I have been blessed with my wonderful children and a woman who even though she knows me better than anyone else, still manages to put my failings aside and gift me her love every day.
Romance is what you do tomorrow? Maybe but for sure it is what you do today, what you do every day. What do women want? You know the answer if you think carefully and begin to understand what it is that you want. It takes a shared, considered effort but the rewards are enormous. What do men want? Well I guess conversely I would have to put that to my female readers, for I suspect that if you look closely at yourself, you too will find the answer. Happy Valentine’s Day. Now go find the love…
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
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