I usually don’t put much stock in what celebrities have to say (especially when they express their ill-informed opinions about Israel!) but unfortunately many others do. The world venerates their lifestyles, imitates their fashion sense and fantasizes about their vacations. We imagine their marriages (if they last) to be full of non-stop glamour. 

That’s why it was refreshing to read this quote by James Marsden (I wasn’t sure who he was but Wikipedia reveals him to be an actor, singer and former Versace model), “My wife thinks I’m romantic if I get up with the crying baby and let her sleep in. Once you have kids, romance is thoughtful acts for someone you love.”  

I would just tweak this statement a little by removing the words “Once you have kids.” Thoughtful acts for someone you love are always the foundation of a good relationship. 

And although it doesn’t fit any Hollywood fantasies and won’t be photographed by People magazine, getting up with the crying baby is definitely a romantic gesture.

It’s more romantic than the stereotypical chocolates, flowers and jewelry (although jewelry always counts!)  

Why? For two reasons. One is because it is a real act of giving on the part of the spouse who is getting up either in the middle of the night or at some ridiculously early hour. It is not easy to do. It’s not something anyone feels like doing. It’s an action that has a real-time cost and benefit; a cost that is deeper than a dent in your bank balance. But you do it because you care.  

And because (reason number 2), it’s what she really wants and needs. You do it because you aren’t thinking about yourself; you are thinking about her. You aren’t thinking about your needs; you’re thinking about hers. And because you recognize that this is the stuff relationships are made of; the giving and doing even when it’s hard, even when you don’t feel like it, even when you know you’ll be exhausted. Because you know it will be a source of pleasure (or just plain relief!) to your spouse. You know it will be deeply appreciated (It’s not a gift she’ll want to return!) 

It’s not easy. It’s the more difficult choice. And it’s the less celebrated choice (publicly anyway). It’s not a ring you can show off or a vacation you can brag about. But it’s a more meaningful expression of caring. It’s a deeper and more lasting investment in the relationship. 

Don’t let yourself be fooled by Hallmark or Godiva or DeBeers (okay; everyone likes diamonds, even when sleep-deprived!). If you want to keep the romance alive, just give and give, and then give some more – in the “small” ways that he or she really needs.