It’s been a sparse handful of days since Valentine’s and part of me is already dreading its inevitable return. I’m just not good at the lovey-dovey stuff. People always called me A romantic and maybe I am in an intellectual sense. But I really struggle to BE romantic. Basically, if love is like syrup, I’m certainly no Vermont maple.
My wife, on the other hand, is exceedingly romantic. I’m convinced that her blood cells look like those little candy hearts inscribed with floofy phrases. She’s sentimental, emotional, and appreciates all things ooey and most things gooey.
She’s my dearest love...and she’s my worst nightmare.
Not really, of course. She’s everything I could ever want and the furthest thing from a nightmare. Her desires simply put me in some spooky situations a couple times a year. And Valentine’s is the witching hour for those who struggle with expressing their inner Romeo.
One cannot be ruled by fear, however, so I eventually made the pilgrimage to my local Safeway alongside a host of other dutiful husbands and boyfriends. It is a long and arduous journey and few live to tell the ta...fine, it’s a five minute drive. Whatever.
Upon arriving I walked timidly up to the glass maw of the doorway. The dull windows leered at me as I approached, mocking my feeble efforts to appear confident and composed.
Inside the store was even worse.
The door was guarded by a hundred lovethirsty cupids, bows drawn tight with amorous anticipation. They were flanked by, and in some instances rode astride, monstrous pink creatures of every description. The scene was overrun by fur, scales, and shells bearing hearts and countless feverish hues of red.
I braved the guard to reach the flower section, a jungle of thorns and confusion. I shared horrified glances with the men to either side as we considered the repercussions of picking white roses over red, red over orange, orange over pink, or some combination thereof. Before the sickly sweet aroma could overcome me, I picked a dozen of the simplest red variety and fled with just a few scratches and a minor haze of dizziness.
As I approached the register I saw men being whisked away by flirtacious balloons the size of dragons, too large and powerful to be corralled by mortal strength. I tore my eyes away from the horrors surrounding me, thought of my damsel, payed for my flowers, and made my escape. And this doesn’t even include the separate quest for the veritable golden fleece of her favorite chocolate.
Women will never understand what we face for the reward of their delighted giggles.
I’m beginning to realize why we face them, though. It’s not just “WOMAN WANT NICE THING. ME GET WOMAN NICE THING. WOMAN GIVE ME NICE THING. HOOBA HOOBA.” It’s really not. I must at least give the ladies more credit than that.
Love is for ALL times. I count myself among the men who are more comfortable with love in adversity. I don’t mind doing hard things for Meg. It makes the relationship feel real and deep and true. But thankfully life isn’t entirely composed of adversity. We have joy and bliss and romance. We have birthdays. We have Valentine’s.
Even though those moments don’t have the gravitas of resolving conflicts and facing difficulty together, it’s just as important that I love Meg well in the happy moments. Limiting my efforts to the hard times robs us of a massive segment of our relational fulfillment. It’s counter-intuitive to have to say that, but I think a lot of us guys need to hear it.
In the end, it’s not about the flowers or the chocolate or the cards or the handmade lasagna (that’s right). It’s about loving your significant other in the way they receive best.
Not only that, it’s about how meaningful it is to them when you love them in a way that’s uncomfortable for you. People are more perceptive than we think. Meg notices when I take steps to meet her where she is, especially when those steps take me through gummy-shark infested waters. And she deeply, passionately appreciates those steps. That’s love.
So there it is. I guess that just because something looks like Hallmark love doesn’t mean it’s shallow or affected. Love isn’t all fun and games, but dang it there needs to be some of that. Play a little! Poetry a little! Flower a little! And do it even if it doesn’t come naturally. Maybe especially if it doesn't.
Join me in committing not to be a love hipster. Sometimes waiting in line for an overstuffed bear and a gargantuan bouquet is the realest love there is.