Real Romance Has a Lot to Do With Dysentery

Advice columnist Heather Havrilesky explains in The Cut what true romance means after 10 years of marriage.

The beginning of love is full of sweeping romantic gestures that are meant to be answers to the question, “Do they really like me?” It's all about excitement, and excitement is all about suspense. However, after 10 years of marriage you don’t need to ask yourself that anymore. Love transforms. No longer is it cheesy or extravagant. It's not, in Heather's words, "The romance of watching someone’s every move like a stalker, and wanting to lick his face but trying to restrain yourself." Some people might fear this is a sign that the romance is dead. Rather, it simply takes on a whole new life.

Heather describes a rather embarrassing scene she shared with her husband, where she suffered from horrific dysentery, then fell and broke some ribs. She notes that her husband exhibited some real romance in dealing with her in her broken and rather gross state (having awful stomach poisoning and all.)

The suspense of courtship might be long gone, but Heather points out something much more powerful (and to be frank, a bit terrifying.) "At some point, let’s be honest, death supplies the suspense," she writes. "How long can this glorious thing last? your eyes sometimes seem to ask each other. You, for one, really hope this lasts a whole hell of a lot longer."

Heather think real romance is, "More like the movie True Romance: two deluded, lazy people face a bewildering sea of filth and blood and gore together, but they make it through somehow, some way, without losing their minds completely.”

I’d take it further and say this is true love. It's the kind of love that doesn’t have to be exhibited by a romantic partner. I have close friends and family who I know would be there for me in the same way. If it can be romantic, even better. Let’s all hope we have found, or will find, that person we can be dull and gory with.