“I have a question for you.”
That’s a sentence I hear a lot…from my wife. While we dated, it was an expected comment as we both sought to grow in our relationship and get to know each other. Now, as a married couple, it is often how she seeks to get my thoughts or opinions on various topics.
Her questions are always phrased in a respectful inquiring tone, so whenever I hear them, I stop what I am doing in anticipation of giving an equally polite response. Her questions range from the serious to the silly, but always provide an opportunity for insightful dialogue (which is a good thing) and occasionally becomes blog fodder (with her approval, of course). Like the question I received yesterday, “I have a question for you, what do husbands REALLY like to get for Valentine’s Day?”
It’s amazing how many thoughts can flow through the male mind in the milliseconds following such a loaded question. I resisted the temptation to laugh — never a good idea when your wife asks a serious question — and she was very serious about what men want for this annual celebration of love. And by that, she was really asking, “What do you want for Valentine’s Day?”
Is that a trick question? My bewildered look, hesitation, and silence prompted her to clarify her inquiry. “I really would like to know!”
I pondered for a moment the opportunity to have an honest dialogue that would likely influence how the two of us would celebrate this special day for years to come. Needing a few minutes to collect my thoughts, I stalled by asking her a question. Here’s how the conversation went.
Me: “Well, what do women want from their husband on Valentine’s Day?”
Wife: “Three words – ‘I’ll do dishes.’” She couldn’t say that without laughing. But quickly added, “Of course, the usual is always welcome.”
Me: “The Usual?”
Wife: “Diamonds, Flowers, Dinner, and Chocolate. Repeat at least annually.”
Me: “No surprise there. So what do you think husbands want for Valentine’s Day?”
Wife: “The usual three letters.”
Me: Grinning, I said, “I bet I can spell it.”
Wife: “I spell it W-O-W, but I can think of a few more.”
Me: Still grinning, “Oh really?”
Wife: “Total control of the TV remote control, total avoidance of chick-flicks and the Hallmark Channel, back rubs, new power tools that roar, and a new pick-up truck with all the bells and whistles.”
Me: “I love how you spell ROMANCE. We have been married just over a year, and you know me so well!”
All kidding aside, it does occur to me that while husbands can safely follow the “Usual” path in celebrating every 14th of February, women may find it more challenging to select the perfect Cupid’s arrow to sling their lover’s way. My wife’s question, I surmised, is a heartfelt request deserving a response.
For centuries, Christians celebrated the St. Valentine’s Day to honor the martyrs of the third-century saint(s) named Valentine (there were more than one). Stories and legends took hold over the centuries until this day became synonymous with love and romance. In today’s Western culture, Valentine’s Day is a highly commercialized event, promoted through ads, articles and a modern tradition of gift giving. Never mind that most of us have yet to recover from all the Christmas gift giving. Hallmark started mass producing Valentine’s Day cards in 1916. Today, it is a $20 billion industry with 150 million cards exchanged. It is also the most popular day of the year for the purchase of fresh flowers — which explains the outrageous cost of a dozen red roses the second week of February.
Having procrastinated as long as I could, I offered my wife a few suggestions. The ensuing conversation proved enlightening for both of us. Here are the thoughts I expressed.
- First, it would be helpful for us (or any couple) to discern what love language most appeals to each other. According to author Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch. It doesn’t have to be just one. Good conversation about what each spouse most appreciates can help us be more romantic in word and deed.
- While we should endeavor to express our love for each other frequently throughout the year, St. Valentine’s Day does provide a moment in time to do so with a little more fanfare. So I admit to anticipating a Valentine’s Day card from my beloved with a few sweet words penned by her hand. I have always found that expressions of affection, respect, appreciation, and love during the best or worst of times are a powerful way to rekindle romance and make the marriage bonds stronger. Write it, say it, live it.
- For me personally, I don’t need or expect a gift like a watch, golf clubs or Amazon gift certificate. If for no other reason, than as a silent protest to the commercialization of Romance. Please, dear wife, do not spend any money on me! But if you do, just keep it simple.
- A romantic dinner at home would be a nice touch. Of course, women reading this may think me selfish. Take her out to dinner you cold-hearted patriarch! Have you ever tried to make reservations on Valentine’s Day? Our conversation soon found us both in agreement that we celebrate Valentine’s Day with dinner out the day before or after February 14th and enjoy a quiet romantic meal that we both help prepare on the Day itself…and I’ll do the dishes.
- Renew our wedding vows! My oldest son married his bride on February 14th. What a genius, I thought. He’ll never forget his anniversary! For the rest of us, it still is an opportunity to reflect and renew our commitment of love, whether in a formal ceremony or a quiet, candlelit moment at home.
What does a husband want for Valentine’s Day? Whether a guy has been married for one year or thirty, he always wants to know that his wife still loves him, still wants him and still adores him. Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to be creative and express just how much you love and cherish the man in your life.
Of course, WOW is always a good option…and cheaper than a pickup truck.