So I was thinking about writing for our local Open Mic night and dithering over a topic when Kevin (the nice man I am married to) suggested that, since it would be Valentine’s Day I could write about that. That, of course, led to a conversation about Valentine’s Days that we have shared. We have been married for 20 years – that is a lot of Februarys together – but I could only come up with one that I had a clear “romantic”memory from, and Kevin wasn’t even home.
At this point in the conversation he declared himself a lousy husband.
No No No! He is definitely not a lousy husband, but he is kind of lousy at events.
I think that it is easy to forget sometimes that these are very very different things.
A lousy partner never notices when you are tired, but always notices if you gain 5 pounds. He’s the guy who calls it babysitting, and complains, when he gets to spend time with the kids while you do something crazy sexy like grocery shopping or going to the PTSA meeting. He’s the guy who complains about dinner but wouldn’t think of planning and cooking it once in a while.
These guys might come through with the gifts – the flowers and the chocolate and the jewelry. They may use it as an apology. They may even believe that it proves they really love you, even as they treat you like last year’s phone.
Who co-opted the idea of a“good husband” and sold it back to us as the guy who knows what to buy for Valentine’s Day and Christmas and Anniversaries?
The “good” husband is the guy who occasionally clears the table or runs the vacuum and doesn’t think you owe him one for doing so.
He’s the guy who worries about the kids just as much as you do, and the one who makes sure they know how much he cares about them.
He’s the guy who takes care of his parents because it is the right thing to do, and because he loves them, even if they may not remember his name.
He’s the guy who will give you a hug when you need one, who laughs at your jokes… at least sometimes. He’s the one who always, always has your back.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against flowers and romantic getaways. But I received enough flowers from guys who didn’t show up when it counted to know the difference between presents and presence.
What if, instead of buying stuff, we chose to tell our Valentine simply, I love you? I am grateful to have you in my life. Thank you for making me laugh. I love to watch you take care of your parents, I love to watch you play with the kids. I am proud to be married to you. You rock.
It doesn’t really matter if you are lousy at events if you show up every day for life.
That is what love really is. Not diamonds or chocolate or roses.
Love is going through life, side-by-side, showing up, eyes open, hand in hand.
By the way, that romantic Valentine’s Day was right after we were married – he went skiing and I came home to an empty house and a brand new Bob Dylan boxset and a single red rose –the right gift can be pretty amazing too.