By my calculations dear hubby and I have been together for 19 Valentine's Days. Maybe it's 20--I can't quite keep track of the with the on again/off again nature of those dating years. The one I remember best is when we were still dating, and I cleaned and decorated his apartment as a surprise when he got off work. Most have gone by with little fanfare. A dinner out around Valentine's Day, perhaps ordering takeout and watching a movie. Often a card, sometimes flowers or chocolate.
Here's the thing: Valentine's Day is pretty hard for most guys. We gals have high expectations that we will feel loved and cherished on that day. But sometimes we haven't communicated what we want. Or there just isn't quite enough money left in the budget for what we really want. Or he's so stressed by work and life that writing a romantic note to us just might be asking too much. Or circumstances (young kids, finances, work trips, and the sheer exhaustion of helping our grade-school age children get to school with Valentines, boxes, and party supplies) prevent us from celebrating the way we'd like.
So here's the challenge: whatever he does, accept it as an expression of love. He bought you the brand of chocolates you don't much care for just when you decided to eat healthier? Enjoy eating one or two and appreciate that he thinks you're beautiful just the way you are. He splurged on flowers when you would have preferred something less conventional and less expensive? Accept the extravagance as if it were a love note expressing just what you wish he would say. He bought a card when what you really wanted was for him to plan the date? Appreciate how hard it is to be a man on Valentine's Day (oh, the pressure!) and enjoy the date regardless of who planned it.
You see, when someone does something for us--especially when it's our spouse--we can choose to nitpick that it's not exactly what we wanted them to do for us and feel sorry for ourselves that they don't know us well enough to read our minds. Or we can graciously accept the gesture and feel it as the kindness it was intended to be. It would be nice if love was always expressed to us in the way we can most readily receive it, but this side of heaven that is impossible. So in the meantime we will be a whole lot happier if we learn to receive love however it comes to us: a kind word. a simple date spent watching a move on the couch, Dairy Queen blizzards optional. flowers and chocolate and love notes. a cup of coffee. a full tank of gas. the day-in, day-out showing up for one another in a million little ways that could easily be overlooked, or could be interpreted as enduring love.
For the record, dear hubby did a good job of making me feel loved this Valentine's Day in spite of the fact that we won't be spending it together. He's learned a lot in those 19 years. And I'd like to think I've learned a lot about receiving love so that I can feel loved no matter how he expresses it.