Daddy Talk: Same Old Valentines
Since Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, I thought I’d take a little time to illustrate for you my profound romantic creativity. Early in mine and Ashley’s relationship, I will admit, it was very difficult for me to come up with meaningful courting activities. Most of my date ideas came from old episodes of Happy Days—“Would you care to join me for a soda pop?” or “How about a picture-show this weekend?” And that was about the extent of my ideas.
After some time, it became sort of an awkward joke between us that I simply was not very good at pitching activities for us to have fun doing together. And I certainly never hit on an idea that one might call “romantic,” unless it was simply going to a fancy restaurant rather than grabbing a Coke at a diner. (Some of you think I’m exaggerating, but ask Ashley. Our very first date was a trip to Sonic. The minister who performed our wedding even ribbed me about that one during the ceremony.)
For some reason, Ashley chose to marry me despite my dull dating rituals. But when the first Valentine’s Day of our marriage came around, I had the wherewithal to know that the stakes may be a bit higher, so I did something way out of my comfort zone to really woo her: I asked HER what we should do for Valentine’s Day. Since she’s always been a straight shooter, she came up with a pretty direct, yet attainable goal. She told me that she wanted flowers, wanted to go to a nice restaurant, and wanted to see a chick flick. And one other thing: she wanted me to write her a nice letter. “What?!” I said. “That’s it?!” I wanted to know if this was a trick because it sounded so…typical. Maybe except for the letter part, it is typical.
The letter, though, turned out to be a bit of a trick in itself. Though I enjoy writing and generally consider myself capable with words, I had never practiced writing any sort of love letter, and it was a rather awkward process for me. However, maybe this was the kind of practice I needed to do something more…creative? Romantic? You see? It was a bit of a trick on her part.
But the date went so well that guess what we did the next Valentine’s Day. The same thing. I got her flowers, we went to dinner, and we saw a chick flick. And I wrote another awkward letter. And the next year? The same thing. So if you wonder what I’ll be doing this Valentine’s Day, I’ll give you one guess.
This tradition is amusing to me because it somehow contradicts the popular ideas about romance—that romance involves a mystical knowledge of the other person. Under those premises, if I really knew and loved Ashley, she would not have to tell me what she wanted because I would just know. I’ll bet some married couples operate this way from the start. But I’ll bet that most don’t. A lot of husbands likely could benefit from having their wives’ expectations stated directly. And I’d also wager that in the end, the important thing about romance is being able to follow through on your spouse’s wants and needs, regardless of how you discovered what they were.
I assume that Ashley does something special with the Valentine’s Day letters that I’ve written her. I never see them after I deliver them. But if she was looking for words of affirmation back on that first Valentine’s Day—the kind of words that are especially difficult for me to craft, for whatever reason—come this year, she’ll have about ten pages of those words.