Thinking Outside the Box on Romance

With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s important for me to think outside the box on the subject of romance. If I don’t, I’m destined for disappointment.

I already know my spouse is different from other men because of his chosen occupation, the way he views the world, and how he handles different situations. His idea of romance is unconventional as well. Being distanced from town, he just does things differently than other guys.

The thought of calling ahead to order flowers for a sixteen-mile delivery or making a special trip to town to buy a card and chocolates doesn’t come to mind often for him. The exception would be if he saw big Valentine’s Day reminders in the store fronts as he drove past on his way to the parts store. He does know how to take advantage of convenience.

Early in our marriage I started out having to correct him on which day St. Valentine’s Day is—February 14th. My mistake was expecting him to remember me on February 14th the way I thought he should. When his idea wasn’t what I had in mind, I was disappointed. Now that I’ve gone through several Valentine’s Days with him I’ve realized having expectations wasn’t the right approach. It wasn’t until I decided not to expect anything that I picked up on his style of romance. The little things that he does in our daily routines are the biggies with me.

I wake up with a smile on days when, feeling like getting kids out of bed is a tedious drag, I’m handed a fresh cup of coffee. The fact that I didn’t have to make the first pot to have my cup of joe perks me up.

I anticipate a bad morning rush when I see snow on the porch and hurry out to shovel the sidewalk and find out he already did it before leaving the house. My morning goes smoother and it’s hard to be in a bad mood.

Nothing beats discovering an already toasty warm car on cold mornings when I’m too busy to take time to go out and start it.  I don’t have to drive away looking through a hastily scraped windshield while trying to defrost it as I go.

Taking the initiative to fold three baskets of laundry or tidy up the kitchen without being asked while I’m gone is always a well received surprise. Oftentimes it’s on the drive home and feeling tired that I remember the work I have left to do when I get back. Having it already done takes the grump off my face when I walk in the door.

Sometimes when I’m out of ideas for supper, he lets me off the hook and we have a “cheat night.” Everybody gets to make their own supper, even if that might be just a bowl of cereal or a bachelor’s grilled cheese (two pieces of toast and a slice of cheese in the middle smashed together for melting). I also feel lucky I’m not asked to cook potatoes every night with supper.

When I get frustrated with kids and my patience is drained, I gotta love him for stepping in to take over and give me a break. He brings back the peace and does it with patience. Sometimes, he’ll even let me have a freedom weekend with girlfriends without complaints.

It seems like he can sense when I’m ready to be distanced from my daily routine and mom duties because that’s when he suggests a spontaneous date night. Dinner and movie are just the ticket for putting on my game face and going back to the battle zone.

My all time favorite expression of affection is when he laughs at my crabbiness, gives me a big bear hug, smacks me on the cheek, and won’t let me go until I either smile or laugh back.

I’ve come to like his idea of Valentine’s Day better than my own. Instead of expecting a thoughtful gesture once a year, I get them everyday.

This column was originally published February 2007

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