Marriage Older & Wiser

Managing Valentine’s Day Expectations

When I list adjectives that describe my hubby and me, there are a number of opposites. While I tend to be creative, artistic, and optimistic, he is much more practical, logical, and realistic. I am a teacher, baker, and artist. He is an engineer, coach, and analyst. I lean toward the romantic but he is a die-hard pragmatist. Yet here we are, married for 38 years, by virtue of the other things that we have in common. Commitment. Attraction. Loyalty. Patience. Faith.

Love.

So Valentine’s Day can be a bit challenging for a romantic/pragmatic pair. I tend to do things that are personal – love letters, photo albums, handcut paper hearts with little messages taped to the bathroom mirror, envelopes with ideas for fun dates for each month of the year, his favorite dinner with a yummy dessert. My practical husband goes for the more “classic” greeting card and flowers from the grocery store. There was a time when I felt hurt that he didn’t put more thought or effort into his gift-giving. It felt like he was just checking off a box, and in a way, he is. He is a checklist kind of guy. I have learned to appreciate that he buys those things because he wants me to be happy. He loves me, even if he doesn’t show love the same way that I do.

I’ve learned a couple of things over the years. First, I can’t expect my husband to read my mind or to be something he is not. I might wish he would “just know” what speaks to my heart and be the “sweep me off my feet” kind of guy I swoon over in fictional romances. But that isn’t the guy I married. There are lots of times when I very much appreciate the responsible, logical, practical man he is, and I just have to realize that he isn’t going to magically transform into someone else on February 14th each year. Having a chat about expectations a few days before the holiday is helpful. That is when I might present him with an idea of how I would like to celebrate, or of something I would like from him. We might choose a place to go out to dinner. I might let him know that I am crafting something special for him or have ordered him a gift. He’ll tap a reminder notice on his phone.

I’ve learned that my man appreciates my efforts to show him love even if he doesn’t show love the same way. He keeps the handcut hearts, love coupons and the deck of cards holding 52 messages of things I love about him in his top dresser drawer. They make him feel good, wanted, appreciated. And that is why I gave those things to him – not just so he would get the hint and give me the same thing in return! It isn’t just about me!

I have learned to appreciate the gestures that might not scream “romance”, but that let me know he loves me even when it isn’t a “love holiday”. Like when he puts gas in my car, or brings home my favorite ice cream without me asking, or humors my request to watch a chick flick . He prefers to let me pick out my own gifts, not because he can’t be bothered (which younger me might have assumed), but because, to his practical mind, that just makes more sense than risking buying something that I might not need or want. And I love the flowers that he picks up at the grocery store on Valentine’s Day, and the sentimental card that he signs with his name without any embellishment, appreciating the loving gesture that it is, coming from the pragmatic, logical, smart, handsome, tall drink of water that I married.

For some great ideas for Valentine’s Day or other occasions when you want to treat your spouse, check out The Dating Divas.

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