by Bill and Lynne Hybels
Romance was never my strong suit. I proposed to Lynne in her parents’ garage; I took my Harley‐Davidson on our honeymoon; I thought our best anniversary was the one we spent watching a video of Rocky III. I had to learn the gentle art of romance. For starters, I figured it meant flowers. Beyond that, I didn’t have a clue, but I knew I could get the flower job done. As confirmation from God that I was moving in the right direction, who do you think set up shop right out of the trunk of his ’58 DeSoto at the corner opposite our church? The flower man! So, quite regularly, on my way home from work or meetings, I would pull over to the side of the road, buy a bunch of roses or carnations from the flower man, and take them home to Lynne. What a husband! I thought as I handed over my three bucks.
Yet when I proudly presented the flowers to Lynne, fully expecting her to hire the Marine Corps Band to play “Hail to the Chief,” her response was lukewarm.
“Gee, thanks,” she said. “Where’d you get these?”
“Where else? My buddy, the flower man—you know, the guy with the ’58 DeSoto at Barrington and Algonquin. I’m a volume buyer now. I stop there so often that he gives me a buck off, and if they’re a little wilted, he gives me two bucks off. I figure they’ll perk up when you put them in water.”
“Of course,” she said.
I kept it up consistently for quite a while—until Lynne’s lack of enthusiasm for the gift drained my enthusiasm.
Some time later, on our regularly scheduled date night, Lynne and I decided to clear the air of anything that might be bothering either of us. We do that now and then. We sat down in a cheap restaurant (not only am I unromantic, I’m also Dutch) and asked, “What’s going on? Is there anything we need to talk about? Is there anything amiss in our relationship?”
On that particular evening, Lynne took out her list and started checking off the items.
“Ooooh, you’re right on that one. Eeeh, that one, too. Yep. Guilty as charged. Guilty. Guilty. You’re right again.”
She ended her list, and I was in a pile. “I really am sorry,” I said, “but trust me. I’m going to do better.” “Now, what about you?” she asked. I really didn’t have any complaints, but after hearing her list, I thought I should say something. I scrambled. “Well, I do have one little problem. Have you noticed the absence of the flowers lately?” “No,” she said. “I haven’t really paid attention.” How could she say that? “We have a problem,” I said. “I can’t figure it out. Hundreds of thousands of husbands pass by that corner. Do they stop for flowers? No. Do I stop? Yes! What gives? What is your problem?”
Her answer made my head spin. She looked me straight in the eyes and said quietly, “The truth is, Bill, I’m not impressed when you give me half‐dead flowers that come out of the trunk of a ’58 DeSoto that you were lucky enough to run across on your way home from work. The flowers are cheap, and the effort is minimal. The way I see it, you’re not investing enough time or energy to warrant a wholehearted response from me. You’re not thinking about what would make me happy; you’re just doing what’s convenient for you.”
“Okay, let’s get this straight,” I said. “You would be happier if I got up from my desk in the middle of my busy day, threw my study schedule to the wind, walked all the way across the parking lot, got in my car, and made a special trip to Barrington, where I’d have to pay quadruple the price just because it said Barrington on the bag? And you wouldn’t mind if the extra time it took crimped my workout schedule at the Y…. And you wouldn’t mind if I came home late because of all the extra running around I would have to do to get you expensive flowers? Is that what you’re telling me? That would make you happy?”
Without batting an eyelash, Lynne said, “Yes, that would make me happy.” I couldn’t believe it! “What are you talking about? What you’re ask‐
ing for is impractical, uneconomical, and an inefficient use of time.” “That’s a great definition of romance, Bill. You’re learning!”
Whether we’ve been with our partner for one year or forty, we’re all still trying to master the definition—and execution—of romance in our marriages. As Bill Hybels learned, there’s far more to romantic love than meets the eye. What his wife needed was a heart‐to‐heart and soul‐to‐soul relationship. This kind of relationship seems natural to women, but sometimes men have a hard time figuring it out.
So just what is romance? We’ll talk about that in the week ahead. For tonight, spend a few minutes telling each other what romance means to you. You might hear something important that you’ve missed before.
- James C Dobson