With the approach of Valentine’s Day it seems that magazines, newspapers and Internet sites are rushing to publish all kinds of quizzes and articles about things like how to tell “DOES HE REALLY LOVE YOU?” or “IS HE THE ONE?” or “TEN WAYS TO TELL IF HE’S INTERESTED” or "THE ROMANCE SCALE--HOW DO YOU WEIGH IN?"
When my husband and I started dating he would have would have ACED these tests. The first Valentine’s Day we spent together, which incidentally was when we started dating, Michael showed up with my favorite flowers. This was no easy task, apparently, because he had to go to five different florists just to find the ones I love most. I would have been pleased with anything, really, but I admit I was impressed by the effort. That first Valentine’s Day he also gave me a teddy bear and jewelry, but the thing that touched me most was the poem he wrote himself.
I’ve never received a card from Michael in the entire time I’ve known him; at least, not a card he purchased. It’s not that he doesn’t care. It’s just that he doesn’t think it’s fair to buy someone else’s words and pass them off as his own. Fortunately, he has no problem writing down his own sentiments. Stashed away in my jewelry box among the other tokens of his affection are all the love notes that he’s given me over the years. He doesn’t make a big deal out of it. The notes are things I just stumble across at some point during the day. Sometimes I find them in the car, sometimes in my pocket. They are small and simple things, sometimes written on Post-it notes, but they are more valuable to me than the gemstones with which they are kept.
In the day-to-day world of being married and having a child, is the romance gone? No, of course not. Dinner out is much more likely to be an event that includes kids' menus and sippy cups, flowers don’t show up with the same frequency, and when we go dancing it usually involves pushing the kitchen table to the side of the room first. But he does still dance with me. No, I have never lacked for romance.
My husband is a very romantic man. He’s got all the gestures down--flowers, surprises, notes etc. And I may have mentioned once or twice that I personally believe him to be the most flawless combination of genetics ever assembled in human form. I mean the boy cleans up nicely. Very nicely. After 12 years of marriage I still find myself a little weak in the knees sometimes just looking at him. Oh yes, there is romance there.
Never in my life have I loved him more than when I've seen him sitting slumped in the rocking chair with his hair rumpled, his face covered in stubble and looking completely wiped out after spending the night with a sick child. That’s right. When our son is sick and I’m exhausted, Michael will send me to bed and sit up with Son himself.
When I am sick he takes care of me, too. He’ll bring me soup and keep Son occupied, then he’ll come in and listen to me whine and complain and when I’m finished he makes me laugh.
Flowers and moonlight are great. Make no mistake; I love that stuff. I so appreciate the fact that he continues to make romantic gestures. But when he borrows my car it comes home freshly washed with a full tank of gas. He’s not above throwing in a load of laundry and for a long time I couldn’t have told you what color our vacuum cleaner is. (Though that’s partly because I ceded the job to him once I learned about his bizarre obsession with the scientific patterns of vacuum lines in the carpet.)
When our automatic garage doors broke at the same time he fixed mine first. He still holds doors open for me. He actually finds my flaws endearing. When I trip and fall or do something remarkably stupid, I know before I look at him that he’ll be sitting there with that smile he gets when he’s trying really hard not to laugh, his shoulders shaking with the suppressed laughter. Then he helps me up and says, "Thanks for marrying me. I've never been so well entertained in my life." Sometimes (and I know there may be some who will accuse me of making this up but I swear it’s true) he lets me hold the remote. Perhaps the most telling sign of his love for me is the fact that as much as loves them, he wouldn’t dream of eating the last Oreo without seeing if I want half.
Not only does he love me, he extends the feeling to my entire family. He and my dad frequently go to lunch together, just the two of them. When I’ve been unable to attend a family function, Michael will go anyway. At family gatherings Michael will sit and happily chat with Dad. When they’re out Michael will slow his pace and walk next to Dad since my father isn’t as quick or steady as he once was.
Michael adores my mother and the feeling is mutual. I have suspected on more than one occasion that my parents might love him more than they do me. They’ve actually told me that in the event that Hubs and I ever divorce they’ll keep HIM. There is only one drawback to their relationship: I haven’t won an argument in YEARS.
And when I thank him for being so good to my parents my husband is genuinely baffled.
“What do you mean?” he asks. “I love your parents. They’re great.” I love that they have a relationship that exists independently. Plus, when I want something from my parents, having Michael ask is a sure-fire way to make it happen!
Unlike my parents, I do realize Michael isn’t perfect. There’s his unfortunate taste for disco music and his need to snooze the alarm clock for an hour before he can actually wake up. But this weekend I didn’t feel well. And when I finally emerged from the bedroom and made it downstairs I found a clean kitchen, a child who was fed and content, and a husband whose only concern was wanting me to feel better.
He is thoughtful, sweet, and makes taking care of our family his top priority. And did I mention he dances with me in the kitchen?
I have romance, yes. But I’ve got something else that is much more valuable. My husband loves me. I don’t need to take a quiz to know that. He shows me every day in ways I couldn’t possibly mistake.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Michael. I love you.