I remember my first married Valentine’s Day. We had been married for only 2 months, and I was soooo excited! I spent the day in the kitchen of our humble, single-wide mobile home in Davis, CA, making a lovely filet mignon dinner with béarnaise sauce, potatoes, and vegetables. I set the table with our wedding china, and thoughtfully signed my carefully picked-out Hallmark card.
My husband spent the day holed up in his tiny, stinky office, cramming for his next graduate school exam. I was sure he was secretly and thoughtfully signing his Valentine card for me in there as well!
I lit the candles and my husband came out of his studying stupor to enjoy my special meal. After we ate, I presented him with my Valentine card, and then excitedly waited for him to present me with mine. Looking like a deer in the headlights, he regretfully informed me that he had nothing to reciprocate.
I was crushed! Tears immediately flowed from my eyes. I could not believe he had forgotten, or ignored, Valentine’s Day! It was the ultimate lovers’ holiday, for goodness sake! And we were newlyweds! I questioned his love for me. I cried. He cried. I knew my perfect marriage would forever be scarred by that disastrous Valentine’s Day. (By the way- this is what happens when you get married when you’re 20!)
Many years later, this story is very funny to me. I had so many fairy-tale
expectations of my marriage and my husband. Of course, he had no idea what they were, but I thought he should just know.
What I have learned since then about love is that it is shown in as many different ways as there are people. I struggled for years trying to get my husband to be “romantic” and articulate verbally why he loved me. If he could do this, I would feel secure that I was loved.
As I became older and wiser, I learned to articulate why I loved myself, and when I was able to do this, why and how he loved me became less significant. I was able to quit worrying about his proclamations of love for me, and notice his loving actions.
I saw that my husband loves me all day long, every day- when he makes my coffee in the morning, when he does the dishes at night, when he picks out a “chick flick” for me, when he goes to work everyday so I have everything I could ever possibly want or need, when he bites his lip instead of calling me a name, when he turns on my favorite music, when he does what I want to do, when he asks my opinion, when he sends me a funny text, when he cuts me a home-grown rose, when he lets me be just
who I am…the list goes on and on.
And I make the decision to love him when I don’t put any expectations on the way he shows his love for me. This frees us both up to love each other to the fullest.
Ironically, I have gotten a card every year since that first Valentine’s Day, but it is not as important to me now because it just reminds me of how naïve I was back then. I have assured my husband that he can quit buying them for me; however, he doesn’t quite trust me, and doesn’t want to risk hurting my feelings again. I am so deeply, unconditionally loved, despite my flaws!
There are no fairy tales. Love is not always thrilling, romantic, and demonstrative. But real, enduring love can be expressed in every action you decide to make. I have lovingly decided to stop expecting cards or material signs of love from my husband, and instead start looking for, and acknowledging, the countless, unique ways he chooses to love me, not only on Valentine’s Day, but everyday!