Hallmark’s Valentine Conspiracy

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Hallmark’s Valentine Conspiracy

I know, I know … Valentine’s Day is a HUGE event for women. I’ve heard your stories. You can’t wait to get your card; to read those words of love (written by a professional), to pick up its poetic rhythm (composed by a professional) and see that personal inscription at the end (written by an amateur). You can’t wait to get the flowers or candy or hand picked gift. You know what you’ll wear for your romantic dinner. The focus of the conversation will be love, the feel of the evening will be affection, and the reward of the night will be some of the most passionate and hot sex you’ve ever offered to this man. For some women, it’s the singular most important day of the year (with their birthday vying for second place … for similar reasons). For a lot of husbands, it gets a strong billing, not because they love to do the card, flowers, candy, dinner thingy, but are willing to jump through all of those estrogen soaked hoops for that wonderful sexual bonus at the end. Valentine’s Day has always hit me as a rather sad commentary about the state of a typical marriage. It’s this grand Hallmark and FTD conspiracy to cash in on wives starving for words of love and husbands starving for sex. Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule, but I’m not addressing those exceptional couples who don’t need Valentine’s Day to provide what they already experience in abundance. For those couples, Valentines Day is—technically—just another day. If you pinned them down, it’s really no big deal. What clouds this celebration for me is the myriad couples out there who live for this day because it’s the only day in the year that comes close to what they were hoping their wedding vows would deliver. So the husband wears the goofy heart-covered underwear she bought him, and the wife actually walks out of the bathroom wearing the ridiculous outfit he picked out for her at “that store” in the Mall. For too many, it’s the extreme behavior of the desperate. I know I’m on thin ice with some of you right now. For others, you figure I’ve already fallen in the bitter cold water and don’t deserve a rescue. I’m throwing aspersions at something you’ve always held sacred and you prefer that I just shut up now and leave you to your private party. Okay, I’m down with that. And as far as your little marital love feast, I’d say, “Go for it with everything you’ve got!” I offer you nothing but a standing ovation from my heart. But why do we have to have greeting card companies remind us that we need to stop and take the time to deliver focused, affirming and endearing words of love to our spouse? Why do we need a heart-shaped cue on our calendar to make us willing to go to the brink and beyond in sexual fulfillment and enjoyment with our spouse? The answer is simple: we need these because, for too many couples, if there wasn’t a Valentine’s Day commitment on the calendar, there would be no (or very little) evidence that genuine “marital” love exists in their relationship. Sure, friendship’s there, as well as a commitment to their mutual goals like raising the kids, co-mingling their paychecks, carrying out their religious and civic duties, and making a few decent family memories. But that deep stuff of the lover’s heart is like that groundhog that gets pulled out of his sleep once a year to give us its forecast for the near future. It doesn’t need to be this way, and it doesn’t have to be this way. If I had my wish for a typical married couple, I’d wish that Valentine’s Day simply served as an illustration of what they enjoy all the time. Not a filling of a verbal or sexual void in their life, but a celebration of their otherwise on-going commitment to exchanging vibrant words of love and enjoying healthy, frequent and mutually fulfilling sexual intimacy woven throughout the year. Genuine love isn’t about annual store bought lyrics and once-a-year focused sex (whether you think he deserves it or not). On the contrary, genuine love is simply grace lived out. It’s best described as an on-going commitment of your will, to your spouse’s needs and best interest (like verbal expressions of love and passionate fulfilling sexual intimacy), regardless of the cost. It’s this kind of 12 month build up to February 14th that keeps a couple from feeling depressed the morning after their big celebration. I have a good friend who brings his wife fresh flowers every Friday evening. They may have had a huge argument before he left for work that morning, but he brings her flowers nonetheless … because he deeply loves his wife no matter what kind of waters they happen to be sailing through at the time. Men might be surprised how little effort it takes on a daily basis to make their wife feel loved and appreciated. It’s as simple as:

  • Helping with the dishes or household responsibilities.
  • Helping with the bedtime rituals of the children and offering them a nightly sense of blessing.
  • A hug and “I love you. You’re a great wife” on a regular basis.
  • A “Thanks for all you do for me and the kids. I see how hard you work” every once in a while.
  • Bringing your wife her first cup of coffee or tea each morning.
  • Spending a few minutes towards the end of the day letting her just talk, reflect and verbally unwind. It sounds painful, but all you have to do is listen.

Women would all experience a much greater sense of connection to their husband’s heart if they stopped looking at sex as a chore, a duty, or a reward and rather start consistently viewing it as a joy, an honor and a gift they’re glad to give. The friends I know that clearly have the greatest marriages are the ones who don’t need prompting to treat each other like lovers. Verbal affirmation of their love is a daily occurrence, acts of kindness are intuitive, and satisfying sexual enjoyment of each other is standard operating procedure. There’s one other secret they seem to know: the commitment to verbalizing and giving themselves to their mate is done unilaterally. Whether their spouse is on-board with their commitment or not, they are going to do what true marital love requires—offer on-going verbal affirmation and be enthusiastically available as their lover. This kind of love also covers a lot of mistakes; like the time I waited until Valentine’s morning to stop by Walgreens to buy Darcy a card. The choice ones and appropriate ones were gone. She did her best to appreciate the depth of my love expressed in the card that started out “To My Wonderful Aunt on Valentine’s Day …” A Bonus Valentine’s Piece of Advice: Not every romantic interlude can be like Valentine’s Day. It would turn these interludes, as well as Valentine’s Day into a cliché. But a true, on-going commitment to mutually satisfying sexual fulfillment in marriage can be maintained if you offer intimacy to each other with three venues in mind. Let me use food as a metaphor to make my point.

          • There’s “fast food” sex – this is where you don’t have a lot of time to commit to each other but you want to meet your spouse’s needs.
          • There’s “home cooked” sex – this is the comfortable, “stick to your ribs” type of intimacy.
          • There’s “candlelight dinner” sex – this is where you put some forethought into the occasion, spend some money, and commit more time.

Healthy marriages make sure they provide all three. If you only have one of these types of sexual intimacy in your marriage, you’re going to run into disappointment. Why?

If you only have “fast food” sex, you end up feeling unfulfilled. If you only have “home cooked” sex, you could end up feeling bored. If you only have “candlelight dinner” sex, you’ll go broke.

Marital love has a sophisticated palate. Make the heart connection between you and your spouse an extension of the sexual food channel.

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