This is the time of year that I look at those deer-in-the- headlights faces of the guys standing in the greeting card section of the store and want to just go over and pat their backs. I want to tell them they could throw a dart and just grab one, it won't matter. All she's going to do is open it up, look right past the sappy saying, the velvet, the stock photo of swans entwined on a placid lake... you know, whatever, and check to see if there's something hand written by you, from your heart. You could save youself five bucks and write it on notebookpaper and she'd like it just as much. She wants to hear it, read it, and see it in your eyes, from your heart, in your own way. Because that's what she fell in love with. I'm not knocking spa weekends, boxes of chocolate or dozens of roses or romantic candle-lit dinners. I love all of that and so will she. But the thing she wants most of all is you and your focused attention. The fact that you planned it, thought out your words. The most important part of the gift is the time, effort, priority, and emotional energy you spent on the expression... not the money or the gimmick or the commercialized valentine in a box. All those things spell LOVE to her, trust me. Your valentine could be as simple as a bible verse, an instagram of you and the kids, a sticky note on the mirror, a footrub with lotion, a bubble bath,a nap in your arms, or a night of stargazing and hand-holding. Diamonds aren't necessary. Just remind her that she's the precious jewel in your life. None of "the guys" will rib you for being a sap. And if they do, they will secretly be wishing their wife would look at them the way yours does at you. And she will be sure to text her girlfriends how great you made her feel.
My own husband taught in our current sermon series on the family, that a husband views every interaction from his wife through a grid of: Does she respect me? He's looking to see if his wife will respond to his attempts at leadership and admire his efforts to faithfully provide for and protect the family. And a wife views all communication through the grid of: Does he love me?
On February 13th, I have been asked to share a brief message with the fellas at the "Man to Man" breakfast at Biltmore Baptist Church. I plan to share many of these little hints from a female point of view with my brothers there. But I'll close my post today with just a little preview of, "The right answer to her question in every phase of your relationship".
Phase One: Does he REALLY love me?- The first few years of marriage or serious dating her heart is asking if your love is legit. She's watching to see if your commitment strays, if you're willing to sacrifice your own wants for hers, If you are going to exert your leadership and vision in the home. She's looking to you to endorse her femininity, her dependence, and her companionship. She will blossom as you lead by chivalry, tenderness toward her fragile emotions, and time having fun with her.
Phase two: Does he really love ME?- In this phase the kids are arriving and bringing with them bills, mortgages, diapers, sleepless nights and career pressures are peaking. But your wife is asking if you'll stick it out. She wonders if you might be longing for your freedom, your peace and quiet, the carefree non-exhausted girl pal she used to be. She wonders if there is a romance left under that pile of laundry or if the cheerio coated floor could still be a dance floor. Re-assure her that she still strips your trigger, melts your butter and floats your boat. She needs a partner in rearing the kids to love Jesus. Show gratitude for the way she serves the family. She needs time away from the drudgery of running the home. She needs you to sweep her away again. she needs you to tell her she's more than a house-keeper, nurse, babysitter and cook.
Phase Three: DOES he really love me...still?-The kids have their own lives now. She wants to produce something significant. The house stays way too clean. She might be pursuing her career, volunteer work, or a hobby now. But she's not a size two anymore, there are a few lines on her face. She admires what you've built in your career but she wonders if you might be looking longingly at the younger, less road-worn version of womanhood in the office down the hall. You may be thinking the fact that you come home every night and deposite a nice paycheck every other week is all she needs to know about your love for her. You have proved it by just sticking it out for 20+ years. But you would be mistaken. Spend time doing recreation together. Bring the fun back. Learn something new, together. Lead her in a volunteer effort or mission trip, leave a legacy together. But most of all, let her know that she's more beautiful than ever. Pursue her. Flirt with her. Make her laugh. Let her catch you checking her out.
I'm sure there are more phases, but I've only been at this LOVE thing since 1989. I have so much to learn and so many mistakes to make up for. But I know this for sure, I'm loved. No woman ever easily walked away from, or fought against, a man who made her feel good and truly cherished. She wants you to love her and lead her. And she wants to see you pursuing a love relationship with Jesus more than ever before, because that makes her feel safe. So don't get stressed about the pressure to produce the perfect valentine... by God's grace, just BE one.
If you'd like more info on the strong men's support ministry of "Man to Man" at Biltmore Baptist Church Click here.