“Don’t get me flowers for Valentine’s Day this year!” my wife blurted out. “You always do that. It’s sweet, I appreciate it, but I don’t really like flowers.” I sat on the sofa, next to her, bewildered. Mostly, I was trying to figure out what in the world I would do now that flowers were off the table. It was only a day or two before Valentine’s Day and I was at a loss. We had been married for 3 or 4 years, at this point, but I still had a lot of growing up to do.
“I thought you liked daisies? That’s what we decorated our wedding with,” I replied.
“I do, but I don’t want them for Valentine’s Day.”
It wasn’t what she was saying; it wasn’t an un-appreciation for flowers, or chocolates. My wife is one of the most gracious, kind-hearted human beings on earth. Anything I gave her was met with gratitude. It’s what she wasn’t saying that I finally clued into. She longed for something more from me. Something deeper than anything a singular Hallmark day out of the year could provide.
Greater Than Candy And Flowers.
Today is Valentine’s Day. It’s a day where millions of people will spend billions of dollars to impress their sweetheart. Tonight, restaurants will be packed with spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, and fiancees. You couldn’t dream of landing a reservation this late in the game, guys. Just settle for IHOP. Even area hotels are packed to the gills. Everyone’s got a plan. Nothing wrong with this. After all, we are wired to love. It’s in our DNA to give and receive affection.
But maybe there’s something greater here, that we’re missing. Maybe it supersedes the hoopla of Valentine’s Day. Maybe our wives need something more from us.
Five Things She Really Wants.
- Our Time. Time is valuable, as we all know. Time is also fleeting. And it’s often given to so many other things that are less important than the ones we love. This described me before my career path changed abruptly last year. I would often say things like, “Well this is what I have to do, it’s my job.” Or, “I have to give a lot of time to this task.” Much of that was true. However, a great deal of my time
- Our Ear. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re not that good at listening. I’ve become quite good at nodding and saying “Uh-huh” when my wife is trying to tell me something. What I’ve noticed, however, is that when I actually dial in to her and listen, two things happen: I discover new things about her that draw me closer to her, and she feels validated. It’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.
- Our Help. If there were two words to describe what a healthy marriage is built on, they would be servanthood and sacrifice. We live in a culture that doesn’t pride itself on these two values. And that’s precisely what they are- values. Why is helping so hard to do? Why do we resist? Helping with the kids, or household chores is the real way to a woman’s heart. Not chocolate or flowers. I’ve discovered that true intimacy goes through the roof when I choose to serve my wife, and our family, and put them first.
- Our Attention. Believe it or not, we men are actually quite good at listening and catching key words to answer back to our wives with. But often, our attention is focused on other things. Listening is one thing. But actually paying attention to what she’s saying, while we’re supposedly listening, is completely different!
- Our Participation. Time, and acts of service, mean nothing if we don’t willingly participate in our family’s life. Your wife and mine want us to participate. It’s music to her heart. They long for us to willingly want to do things with our kids. They want us to willingly attend school functions, or church activities, and actually like it. In 18 years of counseling married couples, I cannot count how many times I heard wives say to their husbands, “I want you to want to be with us.”
You can disagree with this. Heck, you can even call me old-fashioned or off-base. But I guarantee you, in her heart of hearts, your wife longs for your time, attention, participation, and help more than chocolate, flowers, or a romantic dinner out. Sure, all of those things are nice gestures and you should do them from time to time. My wife certainly loves to go out on the town for an evening, and she loves gifts. But as a sidebar, not a staple.
It’s Valentine’s Day. So, get a sitter, go out, and enjoy yourselves tonight. Drink deep of the love you share for one another. Have a few glasses of wine, and partake of the heart-shaped chocolate box. As you do, set your sights on something deeper and more fulfilling than one day. Create something with your wife that will last.
What are your Valentine’s Day plans? How can you translate this into the rest of the year?