Kat Mayo, 2001

Romance after a mortgage

See the photo? It was taken  six years before the article was written—before we were married.

Kat Mayo, 2001If there’s anything worse that spending Valentine’s Day alone, it’s waking up the next day to the realisation that, well, you missed it. Welcome to marriage. Oh, it doesn’t happen every year, but between paying off the mortgage, managing a household, and staying one step ahead of the kids, many couples find romance taking a backseat to everyday life.

Take flowers, for example. Bent on seduction, boyfriends think nothing of splurging on a luxurious bouquet of your favourite blooms. But once you have a joint savings account, it can lead to a week spent sleeping on the couch. ‘What? You spent two hundred bucks on roses? We have roses in the backyard!’ For the same reason, many married couples forgo expensive dinners in favour of a quiet dinner at home. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you add up the cost of buying a house and raising a family, even the humble take-away can be a luxury.

In courtship, every meeting is time for romance; in marriage, routine tends to take over. Your idea of romance … evolves. In a strong marriage, love permeates everything you do. Yes, even when you’re yelling at him for turning all your white clothes pink — after all, he made an effort to do the laundry. Daily rituals become enduring signs of affection — that daily phone call at work to check that everything’s okay, and even just pushing the trolley as you spend two hours doing the grocery. Sometimes, he’ll even smuggle in a Tim Tam for you, because you think you’re on a diet and he knows you better than that.

Pregnancy can often be a time of renewed affection and romance. Morning sickness, mood swings and a constant barrage of, ‘Oh god, I’m so fat!’ are sure to test your husband’s mettle. A true romantic will caress your belly and tell you that you’re hotter than Angelina Jolie. With children, time and money become even scarcer. It might be years before you can go to the movies again. The ability to go to the toilet without an audience will start to seem like the most romantic thing in the world.


iPlanning time together and fitting this into your busy schedules can be a challenge. Forget clubbing until 4am like you used to. Spending a couple of hours each week learning the tango can be just as exhilarating — think of all that dipping and twirling! And remember to thank your husband when he makes the ultimate sacrifice for you — skipping basketball practice to go furniture shopping.

For married couples, love is not measured by money or what it can buy. It’s not about grand gestures or flowery words — although, of course, we treasure those, too. Instead, romance comes from within and reflects the commitment, trust and friendship we have built and continue to nurture in our families.

Two dozen long-stemmed red roses: $180.

Dinner for two at Becasse: $340.

Breakfast in bed the morning after Valentine’s Day: Priceless.

This article was first published in the February/March 2007 issue of the Australian Filipina. (It has been retitled Romance after ‘I Do’ in the online version.)

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