Plotting Romance

There are many applications to creativity within a family. In fact, one of the great greenhouses for creativity is within a marriage. An anniversary, a birthday, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day -- there are days throughout the year that spotlight one's love relationships. One is probably right around the calendar corner from you right now.

My guess is, you wives are well aware of that fact. We husbands are counting on our “Day-Before” alarm to go off and propel us to the florist or card shop. That's a real shame. Panic is a poor motivator for expressing one's affection.

The fact is, creativity needs planning time. Studies have shown – and I’ve found it true in my own life – that ideas are generated from an initial, intense investment of thinking followed by time to work out the details. That up-front brainstorming is when you ponder your options. You think through what your spouse likes and try to come up with a new variation on what you’ve already done.

That thinking time is often overlooked in our fast-paced lives. Remember, though, no new expression of love will come to you ten minutes before the card shop closes. Don’t get me wrong: spontaneity is good. But spur-of-the-moment action is almost never creative. It’s just unexpected. And though surprise can be romantic, how much more romantic is planned surprise.

Here’s what I mean. Calling your spouse and saying (unexpectedly), “Let’s eat out tonight,” is a nice surprise. Adding, “And I’ve set up a sitter for the kids,” is even nicer. See? That takes some planning in advance. If you go farther outside the box and, say, have a flower with a card for each of three days leading up to going out, and have the flowers left in unexpected places – that takes some creative thinking time to generate the idea, and then time to work out the details.

If time is at a premium, do what I do: use drive time. If I have a half-hour or more of road stretching in front of me, I turn off the radio and start brainstorming. I think through the options available to me and look for a novel approach to communicating my love. Nearby, I keep a clipboard to later jot down my ideas. My wife deserves that mental effort, and so much more.

That reminds me – I’ve gotta run. It’s plotting time.

Bruce Van Patter

all material ©2005 Bruce Van Patter