(Shoe fetishists who read that literally will be very disappointed with the rest of this post.)
Valentine’s day is, well, it is what it is: Created by greeting card/chocolate companies, middle school torture, pointless, since we should say, “I love you,” all year long, an excuse for epic nerd rage, a night to revel in the love of your cat/best friend/favorite Meg Ryan Movie, or a time of utter confusion for straight men everywhere. Roses, chocolate, sappy card, giant teddy bears, lingerie (never get her lingerie), dinner, a movie, that collectible action figure she’s had her eye on…which do you choose?
Lucky for you, I am here to help! The answer is simple. In terms of a gift, any of the above will do. (Except lingerie. Seriously. Don’t go there.) I mean it though, they are all equally hollow expressions that pass (on this one day a year, through the magic of St. Valentine and ad wizards!) for real and honest emotional connection. Don’t get me wrong. The thought does count. It does. A bouquet of flowers (make sure it is not a kind that she is allergic to) is definitely better than doing nothing at all, but I have a better idea, and ladies, this applies to you too. Poor fellas tend to get the short end of the chocolate rose.
If you really want to woo your valentine, don’t just show them your love, show them your appreciation. (This is especially important for you married folk.) Take a moment during your lunch break, or your child’s nap time, and instead of watching that episode of (insert show you love here) that you missed, write out a list of the things that you forget to remember to thank them for. Here’s an example (which I wrote instead of continuing to blaze through a rewatch of The Power of Myth. Aren’t I romantic?!)
- You read to me, and you have done every night for almost eleven years. It helps me sleep, and I love it when you do the voices.
- You stay up super late. That may not seem like a good thing, but I recognize that it is so you can have time to yourself without having to compromise time with me or with our girls.
- You eat my experimental cooking, and rarely complain.
- You put up with the fact that our kitchen is also my workshop and makeshift laboratory.
- You work. Like, in an office. I could not do that. I know that you don’t love it, but you do it because it keeps us safe, and allows us to have pretty things like a home, and food.
- You are one of the most creative, and imaginative people that I know. People don’t often get to see that anymore, and I am so glad that I do.
- You are equally happy to dress up like a princess and have tea, or dress up like a super hero and save the world.
- You try. Every day you try. You make the effort to be a good father, a good husband, and a good friend. I recognize that that is not necessarily common, and I am so very, very grateful.
- You never rest on the past to define yourself, or our relationship. You recognize the change in all things, and you adapt, all the while holding my hand.
- You do the dishes.
- You have a level of patience with the world in general that I do not possess.
- Your workplace is often toxic, and you make a real effort to leave it at the door when you come home. That cannot be easy.
- You call me on my bullshit.
- You’re never afraid to talk it out.
- You’ve taken night duty with both of our girls.
- When you’re wrong, you say you’re wrong. (And you know what movie I am referencing…which makes this a two for one!)
- You understand that I need to have me/myself time to stay sane and healthy, and you work with me to make it possible.
- You dance.
Your list doesn’t have to be that long. It can be as simple as saying, “I realize that when I lived alone my house was a pigsty, and now that you are here things tend to smell good and be in appointed places, and you are not a house elf, and sometimes I forget to say thank you. Thank you.” Roses and candy are awesome, but couple them with an honest show of respect and appreciation, and you’re a lot more likely to get some. Get some respect and appreciation in return I mean. Sheesh! Get your mind out of the gutter. ❤