A-Z of Romance: X is for the missing chromosome (slightly sexist post)

So a bit of a stretch, but I couldn’t think of anything for ‘X’. Have you ever looked in the ‘X’ part of the dictionary? There’s not much there…

Of course by “missing chromosome” I’m talking about men. (Biology lesson for those who don’t know: Women are made up of XX chromosomes, men are XY.) I’ve come to the conclusion (as have many of my female friends) that this missing chromosome is the reason why some men have difficulties in understanding, listening, and being compassionate. I know that sounds sexist, but let’s face it – it’s the truth.

I’m no expert, but I’ve had a fair few relationships, have a lot of male friends, and my husband does describe our relationship as “being married to a man with boobs”, so when it comes to understanding how men think, I’m pretty sure I’ve got it covered!

Hints and Tips

Men don’t do subtlety. For four years I said things like: “I’d love to have somewhere to put my ornaments”, slowly moving up to: “I’d love to have some shelves up”. After four years I changed to: “Put some goddamn shelves up”. That worked. My point is that if you want an early night, don’t tell a man that’s what you want. You have to be blunt. If you want sex – tell him. Then he’s likely to respond and you won’t feel ignored. Unless he’s on the X-Box, then you have no hope. You could walk in front of him wearing absolutely nothing and he wouldn’t get it.

So stop putting hints and tips about the place and getting pissy when he doesn’t do anything about it. It’s not his fault – it’s the missing chromosome.

Cuddles and Kisses

I’m 99% sure that all things romantic are held in the X chromosome, which is why (and there are exceptions to the rule) 99% of men are half as romantic as women. So when he turns up with a wilted bunch of carnations instead of a dozen red roses, don’t hate him, be grateful that he got you flowers at all – at least he’s tapping into the romantic part of his brain.

When it comes to cuddles and kisses, most men will automatically think it’s leading to sex even when it’s not. Don’t blame him, blame the chromosome and remember that men have two brains and it’s not the one in his skull that does the thinking.

Remembering Dates

All things relationship and memory are held in the X chromosome, so again most men are at a disadvantage since they only have one. I have been victim of a forgotten birthday, forgotten anniversary, and forgotten other special dates, so you have my complete sympathy if it has happened to you. And while I am still bitter and angry, I strive to remember that it’s not his fault – it’s that damn chromosome.

That missing chromosome has a lot to answer for.

DISCLAIMER: Not all men are the same, not all men behave the way I’m about to describe, so don’t tar all of them with my brush. This is purely on experience. I’m sure there are men out there who are not affected by this missing chromosome.

A-Z of Romance: W is for Weddings

15th April 2006. That was the day I got married, and although it was done as cheaply as possible and having to alter certain parts (i.e. seating plans and dates) to suit other people, it was one of the best days of my life.  So for today’s blog, I thought I’d share some simple moments from the day I went from being Miss Charlotte Leigh, veterinary nurse, to Mrs Charlotte Howard, wife.


Official photo

We got married at Sherborne Castle, Dorset in their Orangery. It rained all morning, but stopped long enough for me to walk down the path, and for us to have our photos. I think this was a sign.


Cake made by my mum

Fortunately for us, my mum makes wedding cakes for a living (or did until recently), so when it came to ours, there was no choice to make. My mum knows me so well that all I did was tell her that I wanted a three tier cake, and that I would be having forget-me-nots (my favourite flower) in my bouquet. Our main colour changed from lilac to cornflower blue after we couldn’t find bridesmaid dresses in any shade of purple, but we managed to incorporate some purple by having fresias as part of our flowers. Mum even managed to match all the shades perfectly, despite living 200 miles away and not having seen the official colours or flowers until the actual day.

at the alter

At the alter

We had a civil service, since neither of us are overly religious. I walked down to my favourite piece of classical music, “Canon in D” by Pachelbel, and we walked out to “Spring from the Four Seasons” by Vivaldi since it was Spring!

first dance

First dance (Savage Garden “I Knew I Loved You”)

It’s hard for me to admit that we met on the internet. After two years of chatting online, we swapped addresses and phone numbers, and fell in love before we’d even met. So, “I Knew I Loved You” by Savage Garden seemed apt as our song. Unfortunately there is a major height difference between us; Rich is 6″3 and I’m 5″0.5. That half inch is very important. Short people will understand.


Rings and flowers

We both exchanged rings. Rich has a plain gold band, and mine is white gold to match my engagement ring. I also wore my Tiger’s Eye bracelet that Rich bought as a gift. My something old, was a necklace I was given as a child when we lived in Oman, worn as an anklet, new was my tiara bought by my mum, I borrowed my veil – it was the same one that my mum wore when she married my dad, and blue was my flowers and bridesmaids.

We plan on renewing our vows in 2016 on our 10th anniversary.

A-Z of Romance: V is for Valentines All the Time

Sorry it’s a day late – I got mixed up with the Easter Bank Holiday… Anyhoo…

Bit of a ranty, anti-romance blog today because, V is for Valentines All the Time. Why? Because Valentine Day comes once a year, and that seems to be the “let off the hook day”. Let me explain:

Once a year – one day out of 365 – partners around the world are forgiven for a year of forgetting birthdays and anniversaries. They are forgiven for being lazy and ungrateful. IN FACT they are REWARDED for it. We accept their flowers and chocolates and “I love you really”s, giving them 364 get out of jail free cards. I’m the worst for it – I don’t even expect a candlelit dinner without children. I go out of my way to cook a lovely meal (usually steak), and let my hubby have an XBox night. Well no more! Valentines should be All. The. Time. We should expect our partners to take 50% of the responsibility for the relationship and give 50% back. It goes without saying that we should also do the same. We shouldn’t expect our other halves to come home with a bunch of flowers, we should shower them with love on occasion as well.

So why the rant? Because it was Easter this weekend – and the Easter bunny forgot me until I produced an egg for him. This brought up a whole load of other arguments – like that he forgot my birthday last year. Never forgiven, and never forgotten. Okay, so later on, after he’d been reminded of which day it was, I got a laptop. And on Sunday, he went out and scoured the supermarkets while I took our daughter swimming, and came home with a beautiful egg, but too little too late. I don’t want apology gifts. I want recognition at the time! I want to be woken up on my birthday with a cup of tea. I want to wake up to “Happy Anniversary”. I want breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. Like he gets. (Okay, Father’s Day for him, but you get the picture.) I’ll forgive him for the anniversary lapse this year – I remembered, but I didn’t get him anything either.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful – I am grateful, and thankful, for everything. I love him more than I can describe, but he infuriates me. And come Valentine’s Day, a day he does remember because of the amount of commercialism surrounding it, I will forgive him for a year’s worth of relationship sins. BUT (and it’s a big but) I would rather he didn’t forget any special date. I’d rather it was Valentines All the Time.

**Awaits the flaming to begin**

A-Z of Romance: U is for Under Pressure (**insert sad face**)

How many of you feel pressured to be romantic? I’d say most of you. If you’re naturally lovey-dovey, an expert at reading body language / minds, or have an ever-increasing bank account, then being romantic probably isn’t such a problem for you. Personally, when it comes to the ‘R’ word, I struggle. I know that sounds daft coming from a romance writer, but let’s face it – neither of my books are exactly mushy with HEAs (Happily Ever After), and before Seven Dirty Words & Four Letter Words, I wrote dark poetry and murder mysteries, so I’m not sure “romance” really covers what I write. Nevertheless, it is what category the books fall into.

If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you it’s like being married to a man with boobs. I’m not sure if this is a compliment or not, but it’s true. Even my two best-friends (who are both female) and I refer to our weekends away / nights out as “lads nights”. I’m rubbish with hints (give it to me straight, or not at all). I’m no good at being ladylike. My housewifery skills leave a lot to be desired. I’m allergic to high-pollinating flowers (although I’ll take the chocolate), and my idea of a romantic night is going to the cinema to see the latest James Bond / Hobbit / anything action-y film, followed by curry. So when it comes to being feminine and romantic, I do feel incredibly  under pressure.


There’s a lot out there that tells us what romance is, and it all contradicts each other. Just look at the types of book that fall under the romance category: Everything from Mills & Boon to Fifty Shades of Grey. Where do you fit? Nowhere? Everywhere? It’s all so confusing!

Personally, I think romance is what you make it. Do away with the constraints of commercialism, ignore what media says romance is, and just go with it. If you want flowers, chocolates, and being proposed to at the top of the Eiffel Tower – then find someone who will do that for you. If you want to get married whilst bungee jumping – do it! Shrug off the pressure, and to be honest if you’re other half is the one putting the pressure on and you feel uncomfortable then you need to do some serious talking and decide whether you are truly suited to each other.

A-Z of Romance: T is for Time after Time

Romance once in a while is nice, especially when it’s spontaneous and surprising, but romance time after time is better. I’m not talking about smothering your partner in cuddles and kisses, I’m talking about romantic meals out, nights on the sofa, talking openly, and just generally showing each other how much you care.

You don’t have to shower them in expensive gifts, but a cup of tea in bed, a home-cooked meal, and a child-free night can all  be seen as romantic. All you need to do is remind each other of why you got together in the first place, remind each other of why you’re still together, and you’ve hit romance on the metaphorical head.

holding hands

Make once a month “Date Night”. This is quite common amongst couples, although we often forget to put that night aside. How many times have you said to your other half: “Let’s go out on payday?” And then payday comes around, and so does something else. Date Night gets cancelled. Again. Make a point of planning it – okay so there’s nothing spontaneous or exciting about that, but at least then you know you have one day or evening a month when you can do something as a couple.

Make Date Night different every month as well – go to the cinema one month, then out for a meal the next. Go for a walk in the local park, and then change it up to a takeaway in front of the telly. Keep it interesting, keep it fresh, and keep it alive.