This is my husband's Grandmother. She will be 91 in March. She is an amazing woman. She had 10 children but was only able to raise 9 to adulthood because a baby girl died within a few days of birth due to a heart defect. Her children (my mother-in-law is one of them) are all amazing people who are talented, capable and have raised some pretty amazing kids themselves.
Grandpa died November of '09. They had been married 60+ years. They are an amazing example of devotion and service to one another. Grandpa had dementia and other health problems for the last several years of his life. Grandma cared for him so unselfishly and lovingly, it was so sweet to watch.
However that wasn't any different than how she was throughout their entire marriage. She always was thinking of him. She always fixed him hot meals and served them to him. She doted on him constantly. She was constantly thinking of him and what she could do for him. For as long as I have known her, (which extends beyond my 15+ years knowing Dave...I grew up in the same stake as Grandma/Grandpa) , she has worn a nice pressed blouse (her words) and either trousers or a skirt....and still wears them. She has always looked nice and wanted to for her husband. Theirs were "traditional roles". He worked hard and provided a living for their large family and she took care of the children and home. It worked for them, they had a happy marriage and a stable home.
In today's world, the roles have changed a bit. It is what it is, but I am not sure the changes are for the better (just compare the divorce rates then and now). There are positive changes I admit in that women have more options in careers and education and men are more involved in home and family, but the selfishness that has evolved over many years is not positive. Marriage isn't sacred, it isn't the most important institution in society anymore. People get married with the thought if it doesn't work out then there is a way out and also with the attitude, "What's in it for me?". If it doesn't fulfill their needs then they are outta there! Now, there are certainly instances where divorce is neccesary and justified and staying in a bad, abusive or unfaithful marriage is not healthy.
Did Grandma and Grandpa have hard times in their marriage? Absolutely! They had 10 children, they had a child die, Grandpa started his own business which I am sure led to financially hard times before it became very successful, they were busy in the church and community etc..etc... It wasn't any easier back then than it is today!
But they loved each other, they sacrificed for each other, they served each other, they taught their children, they helped their neighbors, they worked hard at their marriage.... they STUCK IT OUT.
I think that the "traditional roles" from back in the day are perhaps good models to follow. Service and sacrifice. Not doing what YOU want to do, but doing what is in the best interest of your marriage and family. Doting on your husband and children. Working hard..where working for your family and on your marriage is your highest priority other than God...and putting him in the center of it.
Sacrifice, selflessness and service may not sound like "romance" in the sense of chocolates and flowers, but they are the highest forms of it! Constantly thinking of what you can do to make your spouses life better IS romance. If there was more of that and less of thinking of oneself, more marriages would be happy and more would succeed.
Great quotes on marriage:
"True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well-being of one's companion."
"Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others...By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves."
— Gordon B. Hinckley
"True marriage is based on happiness . . . that comes from giving, serving, sharing, sacrificing, and selflessness."
Spencer W. Kimball