"What? You wanted a card? Why didn't you say so? You could have picked one up at the store. I would have signed it for you." Meet my husband - about 7 years ago on Valentine's Day. He was not romantic. He wasn't necessarily unloving, he just didn't "get it" about how to love a woman. He assumed that I knew he loved me just because he had married me many years ago. For example, on our 10th anniversary he offered to swing by the drive-through at Taco Bell.
Expectations can destroy a relationship. I had huge expectations about getting swept off my feet. I believed the Hollywood and Disney version of marriage. I absolutely expected "Happily Ever After." When I married, I expected to get blown away by romance. I thought my husband would always gaze at me with goo goo eyes. I thought he would wow me daily with romantic gestures. Then real life hit pretty hard. We were swamped with ministry, we had kids, and life was busy.
My husband had huge expectations as well. He expected "Leave it to Beaver." He thought that a loving wife always had supper on the table. She kept a perfect house, handled the children patiently, and allowed her hard-working husband to come home at night to his castle, prop his feet up in his favorite chair and watch T.V. in silence. Was he in for a shock! I stunk at all those things. I am well known for kitchen fires when I cook, I hate to clean, and I was not cool with my husband disengaging in the evening and ignoring me and the kids.
For many years we were both extremely dissatisfied with our relationship. I will say that my husband was the first to make an effort to change. My husband has learned in recent years how to love me. The way that I understand love is not necessarily the way that he naturally expresses love. It takes hard work on his part. That's what makes it so beautiful. For example, he now does Valentine's week instead of just Valentine's Day. I look forward to this holiday all year.
This year Shawn has written me a love letter every day. He has spent each day writing to me about why he finds me beautiful. The letters have addressed physical traits, personality traits, and spiritual traits. As with most women, I struggle with my self worth. It is refreshing and touching to know that my husband dwells on my beauty and thinks about me during the day. (Read - I cried a lot when I read the letters)
There have been gifts and special meals and candy, but I think the most touching gift was a music download. After I was asleep the other night, Shawn stole my phone and added new music. Some was just fun, but he added a song that he thinks describes who I have become. I didn't know what to expect when I listened, but I was honored beyond words. You see, he downloaded Leeland's "Tears of the Saints". It's a song about doing whatever it takes to reach the hurting and the damaged and the lost.
Tonight we celebrate Valentine's Day. He has arranged the baby sitter, made the reservations, and all I have to do is pack my suitcase and show up. This is a man who is living proof that you can learn how to be romantic. It can be an acquired skill if you are willing to work hard to love your wife.
I work much harder now as well at loving my husband. It is still true that I rarely cook, but I do try a little harder to clean the house. But I have also learned to build my husband up with my words. I have learned that he needs me to be impressed with him and to express that openly. I have learned about unconditionally respecting him in public, and also when we are alone. I have learned to speak to him in ways that communicate my needs and desires, without yelling, or being accusatory.
I firmly believe that with a lot of hard work and a lot of God's grace, we have discovered a love that is much better, deeper, and stronger than the "happily ever after" I was looking for.