Creating Old World Romance in a Thoroughly Modern Relationship
As a busy New Yorker, living in one of the world’s most contemporary cities, a year ago I made a conscious decision to move back to the land of my ancestors—Italy. I found there a magical blend of antiquity and modernity, a place where old world values, traditions, and ways of life are still quite present. It’s a culture that honors love and passion and also human connection through the simplicity of “la vita quotidiana” (everyday life). Italians pride themselves on creating and maintaining a traditional sense of romance in their relationships and returning to the past can bring richness to anyone’s current partnership.
While some may scoff at dusting off old-fashioned courtship and chivalry, it’s a way of behaving that has kept my neighbors Ezio and Anna entranced with each other for 47 years. “A woman is like a sunrise,” says 77-year-old Ezio about his wife. “It takes her time to reach above the horizon as she’s cautious to see what weather conditions lay ahead. Once she is comfortable and made to feel secure that there are blue skies ahead, she radiates endless light and warmth.” He offers his wife protection and stability and she nurtures and comforts him. They have maintained an ease between them and a balance throughout the inevitable ups and downs of life. Anna reflects on couples today, “Although there are many people in love and want well for each other, today there are many who don’t want responsibility to commit, create, and confront life together. It’s not like it once was….”
Nowadays we’re faced with innumerable options for dating and finding a life partner. Technology and social media have reshaped intimate connection and quality time. How can we recapture the romance and the slow steady burn of a deep and enduring passion our fast-paced world?
Instead of staying in to watch a movie, turn off your television, computer, and phone and focus your complete attention on each other. Spend time cooking a meal together and eating it at the table sharing the happenings of the day instead of in front of a screen. Cuddle up on the couch, or if you are lucky enough to have one, in front of the fireplace. Carving out time for giving each other your full presence at some point every day creates a safe space for real conversation and connection.
Pick up the Phone
There is something special about hearing the sound of your beloved’s voice when he or she answers the phone. Even if it’s just to ask a quick question, exchanging words through dialog is more comforting and clearer than a text message or e-mail, the meaning of which can sometimes be misconstrued.
Make Dates—and Keep Them
Heighten each other’s interest and anticipation by formally making plans to go out to dinner on a certain night or away for a weekend trip. It can even be a day outdoors, but mark it on the calendar and treat the event with the care you did your first date. Prioritizing your time together keeps your relationship moving forward and helps deepen your love.
Once in a while, surprise your partner at work with a homemade lunch and handwritten love letter. Your presence will be felt even through the busiest day and heighten your reunion at home. Every so often, as Enzo and Anna do, savor a delicious cake or other treat together for breakfast or a snack as a sweet reminder of why you fell in love in the first place.
Have Your Partner’s Back
It’s important to keep a united front—to be one another’s greatest champions and supporters in the eyes of friends and family (and of course behind closed doors). This signals a profound respect and appreciation that you are proud to be at your partner’s side and they are proud to be by yours. Don’t forget to little P.D.A.—simple gestures like handholding or interlocking your arms while taking a stroll are sweet signals that you’ve chosen each other and are happy for others to witness that. Expressing a little bit of “healthy jealously” also shows that you are protective of your relationship and won’t let anyone else get between you.
When it comes intimacy, nobody is handing out any gold medals for speed. Allow the tension to build with a slower paced rhythm. Lingerie, soft bedding, and candlelight are time-tested ways to make your bedroom a romantic sanctuary. Before and after making love, reading aloud to each other, pillow talk, or lying together with your bodies entwined will extend the mood.
All these small acts and gestures are extensions of your love—one that can’t easily be broken once its been deeply rooted within each other’s beings.