I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Really, I haven’t. I find the entire ‘holiday’ quite silly, actually. It never seemed important to me to have a specific DAY when someone was SUPPOSED to do something nice to express their love because this behavior was supposed to be NORMAL for people who love and care for each other.
One of the ways I have let disappointment swell within me and turn to bitterness is in the area of expectations: I have lots of them, and Bryan doesn’t meet them. This has played out at every anniversary, birthday, and Valentine’s Day since we’ve been married.
I’m a simple girl, I say. I don’t need airplanes dragging messages of love behind them; I don’t need ‘I heart you’ carved out of a corn field; I just want a Hallmark card with something mushy written in it because you are an amazing writer and I love to read every word.
Marriage has been a series of reality checks. Some along the lines of Holy Shit I Can’t Believe I Got Myself Into This, and some along the lines of Damn I Can’t Believe He Puts Up With Me. I have needed to deconstruct many of my expectations – or at least communicate them non-telepathically. He has needed to become more pro-active.
I can’t recall anything in my life I’ve ever persevered through so consistently. I’m the champion of quitters. I rewrote the motto to say, ‘When the going gets tough, try something easier.’ But I have been encouraged by changes I’ve seen in myself, by the efforts I see Bryan making, by the compromises we have made for each other.
When I returned from my weekend away with the ladies, I walked into the house to find a shiny red gift bag filled with raffia sitting on the dining room table. Poking out the top were two red cards – one from the kids and one from Bryan – that said ‘do not open until 2/14.’
I’m still not a big fan of Valentine’s Day, but it has provided a format for us to practice our graciousness, our listening skills, and our love languages. I love you, Bryan. Thank you for loving me.