A fresh perspective…
Tobi Layton

I would make a great husband. Really. I come up with some of the most romantic ideas. Sometimes my imagination gets the best of me, and I'm just sure I'll open the door to find my husband holding a bouquet of wildflowers, petals strewn about the floor, candles flickering, and Louis Armstrong softly singing "What a Wonderful World" on the CD player.

In actuality, it's more likely that I'll open the door to find Ryan reading a hunter's magazine, dirty laundry strewn about the floor, every light on in the house, and a baseball game blaring on the TV.

Like many men, Ryan does have a romantic streak—it's just very well hidden. When we were dating, he wrote me a poem once, and brought me roses on several occasions. He sold a prized hunting dog to afford the perfect engagement ring. And even after four years of marriage he'll shock me with a sweet gesture every now and then.

But I often find myself disappointed because I'm far more romantic than he.

Sometimes I try to force romance by suggesting things he could do for me or pointing out tender scenes from Hollywood movies that we could "spontaneously" act out. "Let's go outside and look at the stars and dance!" I'll whisper in his ear. But I've found that a gesture is only romantic when it comes from the heart—his heart, not mine.

In my pursuit of romance, I realize I am overlooking something far more priceless—everyday love. I'm learning that the kind of love story that wouldn't make a very exciting movie, makes for a wonderful marriage. Even though Ryan may not come home with flowers every day, I know he will always come home. He may never take me to Paris, but he will take me anywhere God leads him in his lifetime. And he may not say it with poetry, but every day he says—with words and with actions—those three little words that create the climax in so many movies.

And that is true romance.

A seasoned perspective…
Deborah Raney

I write novels about family drama. My books almost always contain an element of romance. But for any success I've had in that department, I must give my husband full credit. He is the romantic one in our marriage. I'm simply along for the ride.

Don't get me wrong. I love that Ken is so creative and expressive in showing his love for me. The man could fill his own book with all the sweet and thoughtful things he's done for me in our thirty-plus years of marriage. A poetic message in a bottle, surprise weekend getaways, love notes on my pillow when he's away on business, personalized fortune cookies declaring his love, and once, a gorgeous bouquet of flowers whose initials spelled out my name (Daisy, Enchantment lilies, Bachelor buttons, and flowers for O, R, A and H that I can't remember now. See how unromantic I am?)

But what a man! I feel greatly blessed. Still, sometimes he's a tough act to follow. About five years ago we started taking turns planning special dates for each other. Ken's dates are always unique and elaborate and utterly romantic. I spend two weeks before my turn in a panic, my mind an absolute blank. And more often than not, what I finally come up with has been done a bazillion times. As a writer, I hate clichés, yet I seem to be the queen of cliché when it comes to romance.