It’s upon us again. That heart-shaped holiday single women love to hate and coupled women hate to love, since it so often disappoints.
From my earliest days with Dave, I took Valentine’s Day pretty seriously. I wanted it all—the romance, the flowers, the candy.
When Dave failed his first important boyfriend test, I made sure he knew why this holiday mattered so much. “The whole world knows what day it is,” I explained. “And women ask each other, ‘What did he do? What did he get you?’ If you do little or nothing, I feel embarrassed!”
How twisted is that? I wanted tangible evidence of Dave’s adoration mainly to prove to my friends that I was loved and loveable—Ack!
Actually, it was worse than that. Dave quickly learned that even if he lavished me with gifts, a poem, or chocolate on Valentine’s Day, he wasn’t home free. He needed to behave in ways that made me feel romanced and pursued. If my heart failed to flutter, clearly he was only going through the motions…and he could expect a tantrum.
In retrospect, I viewed Valentines Day not as a day to celebrate love, but as an opportunity to test it. It was like I set a trap, and then lay in wait for Dave to screw up—so I could pounce and feel hurt and offended.
What kind of wife or girlfriend acts like that?
At the time, my motives were a mystery even to me. But here’s what I see looking back. As an active alcoholic, I pretty much specialized in behaving badly. And since I knew that the “score” in our marriage was skewed in Dave’s favor, I relished his mistakes. For at least a few hours, I got to feel a little less guilty.
Thank God, a lot has changed since I got sober. These days, I no longer wield Valentine’s Day like a sword. And Dave pays me the huge compliment of believing me when I say that I don’t expect or need a big display of romance.
The irony of it all is that Dave is actually the most romantic husband I know—and far more romantic than me. All year long, he takes me on dates, sends me love notes, tells me he’s crazy about me, and frequently brings home flowers.
Always, on Valentine’s Day, he endeavors to make us reservations for dinner somewhere nice. I say endeavors because despite his best intentions, he tends to forget until it’s too late to get into a restaurant we’d like.
It happened again this year. A few nights ago, he told me apologetically, “Honey, it hit me today that Valentine’s Day is around the corner. And I haven’t made any reservations yet.”
I pouted a little. “Now it’s probably too late to get a table anywhere but Denny’s,” I said.
I let him sit with that for a moment—I’m still just a little bit mean—before I smiled and told him the truth: “We have reservations at The Blue Star. I made them a couple weeks ago.”
He lit up. “You did? Really?”
I assured him how happy it made me to do this simple thing.
And then he used a favorite phrase of his, one I’ve learned to use in return. Four simple words, but in the mouths of lovers, they become a way we gently teach each other how to be married.
“That feels like love,” he said.
I knew it would.