Love + Marriage

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Actions

February 14th is upon us once again. All the men, and some of us women that think like men, all let out a groan. Why must “they” force us to put on some silly display of false romance once a year to be used as a gauge of our love?  What I want to talk about has absolutely nothing to do with Valentine’s Day and everything to do with acts of love.

We have to be mindful that we live in a consumer society. We are bombarded with what love is supposed to look like. Let’s face it, from Disney movies as a little girl to the dramatic big diamond commercials luring us to believe that the true measure of love is a diamond…us women have been sold a bill of goods as to what love and romance looks like. Surprise trips and expensive jewelry, carefully orchestrated date nights, even a social media “shout out” has become the norm. All of these actions are a very public way of showing OTHER people how much we love or are loved, and how thoughtful our partner is.

However, I learned some time ago that the man I married simply wasn’t designed that way. He isn’t creative, or spontaneous, and for goodness sake, he isn’t one for public declarations. Let’s be real, he doesn’t even like being in public!

If I measure his love for me using the media or worlds expectations of love and romance, he would come up short nine times out of ten. If he measured my love for him by the number of gourmet meals I’ve surprised him with or times I’ve jumped out of a cake in lingerie, well… let’s just say that would be disappointing at best.

I’ve learned to see all the ways he loves me, day in and day out, in the simplest actionable ways. I would suggest that is how most men show love. In the things they do every single day that show they care for us, that they’ve considered our needs and wants, and have adjusted their behavior simply to please us. Isn’t that real love anyway? Sacrificing your own wants and needs for the benefit of another person?

If you find yourself in a relationship where days like Valentine’s Day typically end in some unmet expectations or flat-out disappointment, I have an assignment for you.

Step 1, take a few minutes and write down all the ways your partner does, in fact, love you well, or show you, love.

For example, here are a few of mine:

1. You remember to buy me the extra spicy salsa
2. You keep the kids out of the room on Saturdays so I can sleep in
3. You never allow me to feel the financial burden you bare as sole provider
4. You don’t like to go to parties but rarely complain
5. You make sure to come home at a reasonable dinner time every night to spend time with our family

Step 2, give the list to your partner as part of a Valentine’s love letter. If you are in a relationship with someone that gives you enough material to write on a list, I would argue that they are trying to make you happy. Let them know they have succeeded and that you appreciate all the ways they show you love all year.

I challenge you this Valentines Day to have an open discussion with your significant other and ask him or her, “What does love look like to you?” and most of all “What types of things make you feel loved?” Exchange the list and make a vow to one another on this Valentines Day that your gift is going keep that list and try every day to communicate to them how they want to be loved, and most importantly, identify how they express love to you. Valentines Day is about love, right? So spend it this year getting on the same page so you can express and accept love with more understanding all year long.

True loves shows up every single day.  True love exists in spite of the dirty laundry and in the absence of diamonds.  You can find love almost anywhere, so long as you look for it.

Love your people well, today and every day,