No doubt many of you have husbands who are quietly planning a Valentine's Day Extravaganza that will sweep you off your feet and make you fall in love all over again. This post is not for you.
This post is for the rest of us, who are married to guys who are barely aware that it is February, and who have only a vague notion that Valentines Day falls somewhere in the middle of it. I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only woman who feels that the weight of making something romantic happen is squarely in her court. It seems a little unfair, what with all the serving, giving, and self-sacrificing we do, that we should have to make arrangements for Valentine's Day as well. But, short of sending ourselves a dozen red roses, the reality is that this holiday is much like all the others: it requires the attention of the Mom CEO to create something special.
I have to be honest: I've gotten my feelings hurt many times over the years, wishing that my guy would make a little more of an effort to make it special. While some of the blame may fall at his feet, I have to take some responsibility for the fizzle. I've put him into a no-win situation: I've gotten mad if I have to tell him what I want, and I've gotten mad if he couldn't figure it out on his own. Hmmm, the common denominator? Me, getting mad. On the holiday of love.
So, I've learned a few things along the way. First, I've realized that Valentine's Day is heavily marketed by the gift/flower/card/chocolate/car/restuarant industries so that we'll buy STUFF as proof of our love for one another. Don't be suckered by these scammers. Putting a dozen red roses on your maxxed out credit card is not proof of anything except that he fell for a guilt trip. This also goes for a candlelit dinner at a cozy and expensive restaurant. If you can't afford it, it will not deepen your affection. Take it from one who knows.
Secondly, I found that widening the circle of people we express love to on this day takes the emphasis off of trying to get my man to pull off a romantic feat for ME. We decided several years ago to make this day a family day of love, rather than just something for just the two of us. I'm sure my husband is a little bit relieved over this, and it's really O.K. We plan a nice dinner for the family and either do a "round robin" valentine, or just go around the table and say something nice. A luscious brownie dessert with ice cream is always a hit. It's simple and it's meaningful.
Including our children in our Valentine's Day has had the added blessing of helping THEM feel loved. As the man in our daughters' lives, my husband has written the girls' cards and given them chocolates or small gifts. To make it easy, some years I've purchased the things he's needed ahead of time. I stopped expecting him to think up everything on his own and started looking at it as a team effort. I try and do a little something for our son, but like many men, he doesn't really seem to care about this particular holiday. I give him an extra mushy kiss just because he's 13 and it's fun to watch him pretend he doesn't like it.
Lastly, I have found that what I choose to focus on makes all the difference. I married a man who is sweet and kind every single day. He shows his love for me in a million ways, and what a fool I would be to measure that love by what happens on a solitary day in February! So, instead of pouting about a lack of gifts, I choose to dwell on his sweetness, and the thoughtful things he does for me throughout the year. I think about the sound of his voice when he picks up the phone, and the first cup of coffee he brings me each morning. I cherish the abundant hugs and kisses, the "I love you's," and the private jokes we share. We've made a life together, and even the dailiness of living together is something to treasure.
Valentine's Day is a great excuse to use red napkins and make heart-shaped brownies. It is not a day in which I will require my man to jump through hoops to meet expectations that have been set by TV commercials. We'll grill up some steaks, light some candles, and hold hands with our children around the table. We'll smile at each other and our eyes will say,
"Just look what love made!"