Loves Me, Loves Me Not

In case you were disappointed with Valentines Day......Chuck hates Valentine's Day. As soon as the marketing gurus launch their onslaught of commercials designed to create deep guilt for every man who doesn't buy his love a diamond ring, heart shaped necklace or sexy lingerie, Chuck warns me not to expect anything. After all, according to him, he doesn't need anyone to tell him how to express his love for me. He does that every day by the way he treats me. True.
My husband is a romantic and I have lots of stories I could tell about how he has demonstrated his love in surprising ways over the years. In ways that are so much better than a Valentine's Day Card that he has to buy because of marketing pressure. Yet, I brought preconceived ideas about Valentines Day into our marriage. When I was growing up, on the morning of February 14, I would sometimes wake up to find a small heart shaped box of candy outside my bedroom door. 

My mother always said it was from my father but sometimes there would be an extra gift that only a mom would think to buy for her daughter. As a young wife, I tried not to let the commercialism of February love raise my expectations of my husband but I wasn't really content to let the holiday go. One year I decided I could still create Valentines Day traditions with our children without seeming to insult Chuck for his lack of recognition of this unashamed attempt by our culture to get us to spend billions of dollars on cards, candy, jewelry and roses.

Loves me, loves me not . . .
I covered a shoe box with construction paper, cut out hearts and a slit in the top for mail. I gave our children dime store Valentines Day cards to address to each of their siblings, mommy and daddy. I carefully followed instructions for making a heart-shaped cake and set the table with china and candles. I put on my best spiritual face that this display had nothing to do with guilting my young husband into giving me a gift. What should have been a Hallmark Card moment ended up in disaster. The two older kids fought over who got the most cards, the two babies were cranky, the cake crumbled because it was still warm when I iced it and my sweet, romantic husband didn't think my motives were quite pure! I have a feeling that deep inside I really was trying to make him feel guilty......

Loves me not?

At the first sign of the Valentines Day commercialism, Chuck still makes his speech in which he declares he will not bow to commercial pressure. Yet somehow we always end up doing something special on February 14 and last year we even exchanged funny cards - but absolutely not in the name of Valentines Day! This year, roses . . .

Loves me?
What does love look like to you? Is it always wrapped up in the gift of a card, jewelry, perfume, sexy lingerie? Or is it better displayed when someone takes out the trash, picks up the dirty clothes, clears the table and cleans up the kitchen, makes the bed, surprises you with your favorite ice cream for no reason at all, lets you pick out the chick flick instead of the war movie, would rather watch the Super Bowl with you than his buddies, sends a card thanking you for your friendship, says "let's order out" or just sits by your side when you're grieving? 

Definitely loves me.....
I have a drawer full of cards from Chuck that I cherish. I love finding the cards I have sent to Chuck tucked away in his dresser or saved in a folder of his important papers. Each one reminds us of a moment in time that is forever seared on our hearts and that makes them priceless. I treasure the times Chuck has surprised me with a special gift, a uniquely crafted piece of jewelry, a surprise evening out. Yet without the daily and mundane consistent demonstrations of love that transform a relationship into a majestic lasting friendship these gifts would be worthless baubles. I know this because I have friends whose Valentine's Day cards, precious gems, furs and material possessions cover hearts longing for genuine love and respect from their spouses.

What does love look like to you? Valentine's Day can be fun and a special opportunity to express love. But be careful about making that the sum total of your day.  Instead of hanging your hopes on one kind of demonstration, look for love in the mundane, the dailiness of life and you may be surprised to recognize that the marketing Valentine's Day gurus don't have it quite right.

In His Grip,

Sharon Betters