Valentine’s Day is for lovers. I guess. I don’t really know. My husband and I opted out of the manufactured holiday so long ago I can’t really speak to its virtues. When we were first dating we should have been all up in each other’s Valentines, because, you know, we were deep in the love. But my husband straight up stank at observing this seemingly arbitrary and commercial holiday from the get-go.
His first try at making me his Valentine went this way. When I opened my dorm room door at his knock, he promptly and unceremoniously produced from behind his back….don’t wait for it….an unwrapped VHS copy of Fried Green Tomatoes and said these loving words as he offered it to me, “Here.” Correction—word, loving word.
I didn’t even realize he was attempting to partake in the ritual of bestowing me with a Valentine. I was utterly confused at being randomly handed a movie I didn’t even like and had to ask, “Huh?” Then he filled me in. That, my friends, was his best attempt at our first Valentine’s Day together and he never did get much better at making me feel loved on the day dedicated to said pursuit.
Have you been disappointed on Valentine’s Day too? Mmmmhmm, I know hon, come lay your head on my shoulder and I will pet you.
Mr. Utter Imperfection kept trying though, to make Valentine’s Day his groove thang. The first year we were married, he spent $110 on a dozen red roses that keeled over dead three days later. Back then, we didn’t have even $10 to spend in this manner AND I’m not an appreciator of red roses, and so I grieved his offerings. Again.
It was clear observing this confectionery-laced holiday wasn’t his sweet spot. And it felt worse to me to crash and burn together in his attempts than to not celebrate it at all. So I made a motion to excommunicate it from our regime altogether. Forever.
Oh, the relief that flooded my husband’s face at this welcome coup. I swear it was one of the best days of his life to be let off the Valentine’s Day hook. And I can testify that doing this for him helped rechannel his love force and he got much better at expressing his love for me over the years—sans the pressure.
Still today, I beyond prefer my husband’s sincere expressions of love over an imposed, once-yearly, fabricated, material declaration of adoration.
Learning of our individual love languages is what gave me the idea of giving Valentine’s Day the boot. Mine are quality time and acts of kindness. Things you can’t find in Valentine’s Day aisles at stores. So, come to find out, he had been doomed from the start no matter what he tried to gift me with.
His preferred love languages are physical touch and words of encouragement. Also not sold off the shelves at Target. We were never meant to be any good at celebrating Valentine’s Day in the traditional ways, it simply wasn’t our destiny.
Instead, we focused on working to speak each other’s love languages the whole year through. Some years we were like the Beatles and Garth Brooks and we topped the charts at loving this way. Other years, we were like one-hit wonders and otherwise failed to achieve for each other. But one thing struck a chord and became a go-to classic we still employ in the present day, albeit with some irregularly, but that’s actually part of its inherent joy.
I like words. And my husband needs to hear sweet words to feel loved. It’s helpful when your respective love languages do you a solid like that. For we’re further apart in understanding the rest of each other’s languages; so there’s struggle involved in continually speaking those to each other.
Knowing kind words are his primary love language, one day, long ago, I grabbed a blank journal that’d been cluttering a shelf for years and penned a short love note inside. I left it for him to find on his own and today, he still remembers the elation he felt at finding my first note in that journal—fifteen years ago. And I will always remember my own euphoria from the third time I left him a note in that journal. Because he wrote me back!
His heartfelt, loving gesture was a grand surprise because I wasn’t expecting anything in return for mine.
I was just trying to love him the way he likes to be loved and he was so moved he loved me right back. And here’s the hook, and another reason Valentine’s Day will pass us by again this year without a glance from either of us—we’ve never stopped writing to each other in our book since. That’s what we call it, our book. And our book is now a series because we’ve added two volumes to it over the years.
Before long, my husband started writing to me in our book first and leaving it for me to find.
What a thrill his unexpected act of kindness was. No roses, jewelry, chocolates, teddy bears, or uncomfortable unmentionables could ever give me that rush.
The commercial and contrived aspects of Valentine’s Day would never have shored up our love. But my husband writing to me first in our book made me swoon and still does.
Our book is our version of love in action. It works for us on many levels and fulfills many of our needs. Our book has no rules or expectations, no standards to meet. We don’t write in it every day and never have. Doing so would’ve spoiled it some.
Our book is free-flowing and that’s why it’s lovely. When we do write to each other, we leave our book in unexpected and different places for one another to find.
It’unpredictablele and exciting and that’s why it’s sexy.
We honor each other with words from our hearts when we’re feeling those words, and sometimes, even when we’re not as a way to kickstart those feelings again. It’s versatile like that and that’s why it’s dependable.
Our book is our any time of year expression of love and it’s replaced Valentine’s Day in the most meaningful of ways. Where couples honor each other’s unique needs in ways that mean something to them both is the sweet spot—where love shines brightest and feels the best.
We write our book together because we want to, not because we feel like we have to. But because writing it is authentically us, it’s what we’re good at, and it’s what we both look forward to—together. No matter what day it is on the calendar.
Originally published on Her View From Home.