We bonded over mutual hatred of nonsense phrases on The Apprentice, loud drunk people in town centres and Tetris. My husband and I also have a mutual disdain for traditional romance tropes: chocolates, expensive jewellery, lingerie, spotaneous trips away etc. The idea of being surprised with a trip to Paris would be horrendously uncomfortable, considering we find going to a different supermarket unpleasant.
We don't have the same values our peers seem to have. It's not to say we don't want the same things, in many ways we do. But how much value we place on them and our motivations, are different. Same goes with 'romance'.
Romance to us is understanding that although part of us wants to go to restaurants, cinema dates and shopping trips, ideally we want to do it when there are no people around! So 'date night' is usually 'date morning', while the toddler is at nursery we sneak in a film (in an empty cinema) or go to the cafe we love on the beach in inclement weather, so the tourists aren't there.
When my 'The Big Breakfast' mug dropped and smashed, my husband felt overwhelmed with guilt. He knew what it meant to me, sentimentally but also as an autistic person. He knew I would miss the specific sound the spoon made stirring in it, the weight in my hand, the texture and 'warming up rate' of the porcelain, the colour and the font of the breakfast show I watched every morning of my childhood. He knew how important objects can be so he searched eBay until he found a replica. He was so thrilled to have given me that little bit of comfort back. And it's the little things, like this, that make me love him a bit more every day, even when I don't think it possible.
To us, romance means taking your time buttering bread for sandwiches extra carefully and laying tomato slices on kitchen roll for a couple of minutes because the other person doesn't like soggy bread when the tomatoes seep through.
Romance is the other half wading through a shopping centre to catch a Pokémon on your phone while you head back to the car because you can't 'do people' anymore.
Romance is standing your ground in a PIP Tribunal, shaking with angry tears but powered by feral protectiveness.
Romance is telling you when you're being obnoxious and can't tell, or helping to buckle sandals on bad arthritis days.
Romance is our way with our kind of love...
And putting the kettle on *hint* 😏