Here it is again! Valentines day 2021! And again, I failed to go out and buy anything for my wife (of 23 years). No ‘lovey dovey’ heart shaped card, no chocolate candy, no tiny candies with love notes written on them, and heck…we didn’t even go out to dinner this year!
No gifts and no dinner at a fancy restaurant. I would say that we DO normally pick up a little something for each other most years, but this year has, needless to say, been a little bit different. Not sure if we can blame it on the snow, ice and temperatures in the teens; the weekend trips to high school basketball games to watch our daughter cheer; or maybe it was this other tiny, crazy, nagging little viral nuisance, but whatever the case, surprises didn’t happen this year.
However, after 23 years of marriage, and 30 years of being a couple, we BOTH know that those little gifts, dinners, and even BIG gifts aren’t really what matter in a relationship…I KNOW she loves me…and SHE knows that I love her. That’s it.
But how do we know? Good question. Ironically, my daughter asked this question of the two of us last night on the way home from the game. She mentioned that she knew a couple friends who had told her that her parents just didn’t really even like each other. She said that it even seemed a little “odd” that we could even still be happy together as a couple for over 30 years. She asked us ‘what was the secret sauce?’
Honestly, with about one minute left until we pulled into the driveway, neither one of us gave her a very good answer. Now that I’ve had a minute to sleep on it, I have come up with a few ideas. I haven’t talked to Shannon, my wife, about this yet, so we’ll have to have her do this exercise as well…and we’ll compare notes!
First, I think we both have had some really good role models in our lives as both sets of our parents have now been married for over 40 (mine 50) years. I’ve seen both sets have arguments over certain things at different times and have disagreements about various topics over the years…but they always seem to reach a common ground. I’ve heard numerous people say, “never go to bed in the middle of an argument”. I wholeheartedly believe in this principle.
Second, we had seven years together dating before we tied the knot! This time period started when she was a Freshmen and I was a Junior in high school. I don’t think I quite knew that it would work out this way in the very beginning like I’m ‘pretty sure’ she did…but as the weeks and years went by I became certain that she was my soul mate and not just a little cutie that I could show off to my friends. Now that I’ve come to know every ounce of her thoughts and dreams, I am pretty sure that she had this all planned out from day one!
Now, I know that some people have met and known each other for WAY shorter time periods than seven years and been able to make it work and I totally respect that and know that it CAN be done…but I believe that a slow and steady courtship that allows a relationship to build slowly with time can help a couple learn about each other and how each one will respond in the good times and the bad.
Third, I believe the old adage that states “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Be patient with me while I explain this one! I have seen a few studies that state that long distance, long term relationships can prove fruitful and meaningful and provide for greater intimacy when the couple is together. But I have personally seen these types of relationships dwindle and fail also. I have always admired our MILITARY FAMILIES and the hardships they endure when a spouse or companion is required to leave their families for extended periods of time…not to mention the possibility of being thrust into harms way. I cannot imagine being away from my family for more than a few days at a time. I have such respect and honor for families that stay together through these types of trying times.
The “absence” to which I am alluding is that of free time. I believe that every person needs a fair amount of time to be on their own. Whether that means time away to work, time alone to play, time alone to think or time alone to exercise, every person in every relationship needs to give their companion some ALONE time to have a chance to breath and explore their own thoughts and pursuits. Overbearing spouses or partners can lead to annoyance, anxiety, stress and strife. Give your partner some SPACE!!!
That being said, I believe that my favorite book that everyone should read will give all the answers we need…the Bible. Start with Ephesians 5:25-28. In a nutshell it says, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and wives understand and support your husbands in ways that show support for Christ”. Also, “Love is patient, Love is kind, Love endures all things and Love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:4-8).
So don’t worry about getting gifts or food for your loved one if you haven’t yet…just give them a hug and some good old fashioned LOVE this Valentines day!