Ah, Valentine’s Day. My earliest memories of the beloved celebration were of tiny die-cut cards stating such simple messages like, “some bunny loves you” and “will you be mine.” They were placed in a brown paper sack that had been decorated with glitter and taped to the back of my little-person-sized desk. Love was so easy.
Years later, flowers and gigantic helium filled balloons were the must-have order of the day. I was never the recipient of such over-the-top deliveries and was always a bit jealous of those who were. I mean, had they somehow figured out a secret code to love that I hadn’t? And how were you supposed to get those big ol’ things home, anyway?
I would eventually marry in my early thirties. Prior to that time, while I managed a couple of significant relationships (and a couple less significant), I was mostly single - a lot. I mean, there were easier things in life than trying to find a nice guy - like nailing jelly to a tree. But it was worth the wait. I would find my perfect match, and we will celebrate 14 years of marriage this year. Whoop and Amen.
Make no mistake though; it has taken some work, as do all good things. One of my first big relationship revelations was this: women want to talk and men want to fix. It seems harmless enough until you start unpacking that dynamic. Let’s take for example the day I came home from work and had a job-related issue that I needed to talk about. Nothing serious - just wanted to talk it out, you know? My husband, whose professional opinion I completely respect, faces the television and without ever losing grasp of the remote, slightly turns his face toward me while still maintaining complete eye-contact with the flat-screen. His attention (and I use that term loosely) appears to be equally distributed across his immediate field of view - one eyeball on me and the other one on the tube. He had assumed the listening position.
Even in various stages of “listening,” a man will let you know right quick-like when he is tired of doing it and is ready to move on. Mine does so by unleashing . . . The Solution. It starts out like, “so here’s what you need to do” - and that’s where the train leaves the tracks. At some point, while never losing eye contact with the TV, his solve-switch has fully engaged, and my venting process is completely interrupted.
While we, as women, just want to be heard, men want to fix things immediately and move on. They are problem-solvers by nature. So while the unsolicited advice might not be what I had in mind when I sat down to tell him about my day, I must remember, that’s how he’s wired.
(Note to all you Mr. Fix-its: A woman likes a strong silent type. She thinks you’re listening when you’re quiet. Work that.)
Men also seem to want big-time credit anytime they do something helpful, no matter how mundane the task. Take, for example, the emptying of the dishwasher. Now everyone knows that this is usually done by the dishwasher fairy (wink) but on the occasion that your man does it (likely because he didn’t notice the “clean” light was on and opened the cover by total mistake – much to his absolute horror - ‘cause we all know, you can’t just close it and the light come back on), it should be fully acknowledged and celebrated. When a man empties the dishwasher, it should instantly receive a stratospheric ranking in the “look what I did” department.
(Note to the ladies: notice, appreciate and articulate.)
Yep, my sweetie and I have certainly made a good run of it. We’ve definitely had our moments, but in the end, we’ve managed to laugh off most of them. Laughter and love go hand-in-hand, you know, and we laugh at everything. It’s an absolute necessity.
Sure, I might not get flowers and balloons this year for Valentine’s, but I will, however, get a funny card that will be hand-delivered by a man who loves me. It’ll likely still be in the bag along with one of my favorite Hollywood-type magazines and a box of little white powdered donuts. He knows they’re my favorite. I’ll take that over a bunch of helium, any day.
Maybe more marriages would survive if the people involved realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse. A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. I’m so thankful for my person.
Thank for picking up this month’s issue. It’s great having you as one of our readers.