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Published October 27, 2011, 11:30 PM

Linnares: Can a North Dakota man learn ways of romance?

To heck with the Latin lover and this stupid column idea!” That was the sweet email I received from a woman who knows me as the “Diva Dance lady who is married to the publisher of this paper.”

By: Chris Linnares, INFORUM

To heck with the Latin lover and this stupid column idea!” That was the sweet email I received from a woman who knows me as the “Diva Dance lady who is married to the publisher of this paper.”

Yes, this is one part of me. I am also an amateur mom, step-mom, “part time” wife and a person who is fascinated by the challenges of being a complex woman living in an even more complex world.

I love to write about everything – from the beauty of our dreams and desires to the reality of our deceptions and dirty diapers.

One of my favorite topics? Passion and romance …

Historians believe that the English word “romance” was developed from a dialect of the French language. But my question is: What is your definition of romance?

A woman told me she was disappointed when her husband once surprised her with flowers and diamonds earrings instead of giving her a vacuum cleaner. She explained she grew up with a Norwegian background where the way to express love was by fulfilling practical needs.

My definition of romance and “Latin lover” was influenced by my brothers, who express their love by giving flowers, surprises and by kissing in public. I remember my sister-in-law talking about how my brother, whom she proudly calls her “Latin lover,” took her to the airport and gave her a surprise trip. I thought: how romantic! I knew in my heart one day I would find my “Latin lover” and live happily ever after on one of the beautiful beaches of Brazil.

Well, that’s what I thought.

Years later I found my “North Dakotan lover” and moved from the tropics of Brazil to Fargo. I remember we were walking on the streets and I wanted to give him a kiss. He pushed me away and said: “Stop! This is PDA!” I was so shocked by his reaction; I assumed this “PDA” must be something against the law.

In my language I was just “expressing love,” but in his language that’s called public display of affection. I felt so hurt that I accused him of not being romantic.

“Of course I’m romantic,” he said. “I take the garbage out!”

At that moment I knew we both spoke not just different native languages, but different romantic languages. We needed a translator, or as some people call it: couples therapy.

In this fascinating process of translating each other’s expectations we learned a few secrets.

First, choose curiosity instead of criticism in order to write a more passionate story – curiosity to listen to the voice hidden in the silence of our hearts. A voice that has it owns dreams and desires. The most challenging part? You are not writing your romance novel alone.

So this leads me to the second secret: Take time to get to know who is co-writing with you. Especially what romantic language he speaks.

The third and most important secret? Forget about somebody else’s definition and “secrets,” including the first two I already gave to you. Who cares how the “historians” define romance? What is the definition of a “Latin lover” anyway? The most important definition is the one you and your partner discover for yourselves.

The question is: Are you expressing your romantic language and being able to listen to your partner’s?

This year my husband and I celebrated our anniversary and he surprised me with a trip. When we got in the airport he passionately kissed me … in public!

To heck with the Latin lover; I am proud of my North Dakotan lover. Especially because after our trip, back to the reality of our busy lives, he continues to be extremely romantic … by taking out the garbage.

To discuss this column, follow the link attached to this article.

Chris Linnares is international author, Brazilian psychotherapist and creator of Diva Dance. She is the founder of Naturally Diva and Diva Connection Foundation for women’s healthy and empowerment. Contact her at chris@naturallydiva.com.