Actually, she loves Valentine’s Day – she just hates that it’s not celebrated with more fanfare in our home. She is surrounded by men she loves and yet, on Valentine’s Day she finds that the men in her life are hopeless in the romance department.
All year long she dotes over us; she cooks, she cleans, she fixes, she polishes, she fixes some more and she attends to us with the enthusiasm of a wife and mother. Yet on Valentine’s Day she watches with longing, restraint and I’m sure a bit of envy as her friends, sisters, mothers and strangers enjoy the day with lavish gifts, heartfelt prose, flowers and all sorts of extravagances fit for a queen.
But she never utters a complaint. She merely goes on doing what she has always done and so do we. She gives her love every day and we take it willingly and for granted.
Years ago when we were dating I went to extremes to make sure that she felt special on Valentine’s Day. But as our family grew, so too did the gap between romance and the pressures of every day life. What was once a feverish longing on my part to please her soon settled into the comfort and conformity of familiarity and a life of blaming, demanding and expecting. Rather than nurturing her love, consoling her in her grief, protecting her in her times of fear and treasuring her always I abandoned chivalry.
Because I’m a man which in a manner of speaking means that sometimes, many times we behave more like animals than we do like humans with feelings or emotions. Sometimes, we mistreat, ignore, defeat and mishandle the most precious and important relationships in our lives because we are selfish and inconsiderate. It’s not an excuse but rather a condemnation of what was and what we tell ourselves will always be. When I speak of taking her for granted I mean that I neglected my duty to love, to honor and to cherish her as her husband, friend and confidante.
Before I realized what had become of our love I had already traveled down a path marred by the pain of those who had gone the same way. And yet I soldiered on, blinded by my own ambition, by my own ignorance and by my selfish pride. That I was headed for the same fate was of no consequence because in my deluded mind her love for me would always be strong.
But would it?
Fate is cruel. We reap what we sow. We get what we get and that’s the natural order of things. She never stopped loving me, she just didn’t love what I had become until what I had become simply became too much. She pushed back and in pushing back I felt something in my heart that was like a million intense pin pricks slowly bleeding me to death. It was agonizing but it was necessary.
They say when you break a bone and it’s not set properly that you have to break it again for it to grow back the right way and when it calcifies it becomes stronger. In a sense it’s what needed to happen to my spirit. My heart broke because I had let her down. Not just on Valentine’s Day but on every day since our first Valentine’s Day as husband and wife.
When the dust had settled and I had apologized, groveled and implored her to let me be the man she had married I renewed my commitment to love her in words and in deed. We are not perfect but I like to think that we love each other more every day than we ever have before.
It takes a lot of soul searching. It takes deep commitment and faith in yourself, in God and in the woman you love but it is possible to be a good man who is worthy of her love. I confess, Valentine’s Day still isn’t the greatest at our house and she may still hate it, but I tell her I love her as often as I can so that Valentine’s day is not just an obligatory overdose of frivolous outward signs of affection but a simple reminder of a deeper love and appreciation for her and the many things that we can do for each other that solidifies our love for one another.
Happy Valentine’s (every) Day my love. Here’s to you: