Keeping the Romance Alive

Well, I may have to eat my hat. Slowly and thoroughly, without talking. Because I have noticed a HUGE difference in belching since I started following the doctor’s instructions. That’ll teach me to be skeptical about a medical diagnosis! I am still going to experiment with foods and see if that affects things, but I am pleased that with the new meds that crisis seems to be over.


It’s Thursday. It’s time to talk about love. I tried to start a relationship on Valentine’s Day. In 1984, a nervous young woman took a Valentine’s Day card to her friend, one of the guys in her gaming group who was funny, smart, and great to be around. She proposed dating, and he said since he was relatively new to having female friends, he wanted to keep things as they were. She was disappointed, but she sucked it up, and started to get on with things.

Three days later, February 17th, he showed up and said he wondered if he could still apply for the position of boyfriend. With her smart kid connections, they took the key for the Honors Cottage out from the campus hotel, went to the upstairs room of pillows, and worked out all the contractual details.

I’m grateful to Bryon for delaying our getting together just that little bit. Every year we celebrate this dating anniversary. We have been together for 28 years (we will be married 24 in July). Sometimes we’ll go out for Valentine’s. Sometimes we’ll go out for this. Sometimes…we’ll just stay home.

A good romantic partnership ain’t easy. People change. A lot. If you’re in a good relationship, you change each other in interesting ways. People grow and stretch and develop new interests. How have we stayed together 28 years? Here are Catherine and Bryon’s hot relationship tips, in a rather random order.

1. It doesn’t matter who apologizes. It matters that someone does. Right? Wrong? Not so important. Opening up the lines of communication and talking a problem through, that’s what you do if you’re invested in the other person.

2. Respect is more important than love in a relationship. I know this goes against the grain, but I know my father and mother loved each other. They just didn’t respect each other, or anyone else. Bryon and I are both lovers, and friends who respect each other. This gives us perspective on how to treat each other.

3. When a partner wants to do something new, think about how you can support your partner. Even if you’re not interested in the new thing, how can you help your partner reach their goal and realize their potential? Examples: Bryon is an action figure guy. I’m not into toys. We talk about toys, and I am supportive of his toy spending, as long as it’s in the budget. Reversal? Bryon has no interest in writing, but is supporting my efforts in going to the Maass workshop. When you commit to a person, you commit to their changes.

4. Check on the big compatibility issues before you decide that you want to invest emotionally in the other person. For some this isn’t possible, I grant you. Bryon and I had talks about raising kids, spending money, buying houses, our viewpoints on how to live, the afterlife. I am a great believer that this kind of ground work makes a relationship last longer.

5. Enjoy the company of your spouse. I’ve never understood couples where wives and husbands have separate social lives. The person I want to spend the most time with is Bryon. He’s a lot of fun. I figured marrying him would mean I’d spend more time with him, and that was a bonus.

6. Say and show the sentiment of love often. Don’t wait for special occasions, or it can feel like obligation. We buy each other presents. We have special us time. We seek out time to be together during busy times of our professional lives. We say “I love you” and “I like you” a lot. We compliment each others attributes. If Bryon doubts how I feel about him, he’s just not paying attention. 🙂

7. Your individuality is important. Respect it. Your relationship is important. Also make time for respecting it. Take the time to be apart and be together.

8. Tell your partner when you are unhappy or angry. Don’t make assumptions about the kind of reception you will get if you do this. Again, not as easy as it sounds. If you make assumptions, often they are the wrong assumptions (Yes, sometimes even after you’ve been together for 28 years!) Your partner does want to talk to you, even when you feel bad. Sometimes, especially when you feel bad.

9. Have fun. Don’t take yourself or your relationship so seriously that you can’t have laugh at yourself. We laugh at each others and our own aches and pains, mistakes, and vanities. Because you must.

10. Make sure that all aspects of your relationship are reciprocal. You might not be in the right relationship if you are not loved and love the person in return. If you’re doing all the work, that’s a bad sign. If you’re getting all the benefits, that’s also a bad sign.

I know, there’s more, and none of this seems terribly romantic. Believe me, we can be terribly romantic in lots of beautiful, glorious, hot and sappy ways. For us, this list is a great base for a long-term relationship, and it’s working. We’re going to keep this up because we’d like to get another 20 or 30 years in.

Tonight we’re going out to Vino’s for a romantic dinner for two. Without the Valentine’s crowds. I’m looking forward to this.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

One thought on “Keeping the Romance Alive”

  1. Thanks, Catherine! Words of wisdom from a veteran to a novice, and I appreciate this. Good advice!

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