Friday, February 14, 2014

A Thumbs Down to The Greeting Card Company

I tried to buy husband a Valentines card last week before the mad last-minute rush.

Starting with the top row, I opened and closed each glitter, metal-embossed, three dimensional, and laser cut creation.  With my twins temporarily turned to stone by the Medussa-like effect brought on by another VeggieTales video in the kids department of Lifeway, I had all the time in the world.

I could have easily found a card for my children, my brother, and even my parents.  But after reading row after row of poetry-filled pages, it slowly dawned on me that I was going to leave empty handed when it came to finding a card for my husband.  Each card's words were beautiful, inspired, and heart warming.  But, at their core, they felt false.  Just when I'd think I had found one I could give husband without hesitation, there would be a phrase that made me crinkle my nose, shake my head, and slide it carefully back into its slot.  I didn't believe those words in my heart.

By the time I exited the store, I wasn't just disappointed in the card selection but in my marriage in general.

Was I supposed to be able to say all those things about my husband?  Worse, should a happily married woman actually believe those things about her husband?  And if she didn't, what did that say about her marriage?

Over the next few days, I gloomily puzzled over this dilemma until I realized the problem wasn't my marriage.  It was the pedestal these cards thrust any spouse upon.  It was the use of words like best and always--terms that just weren't true.

No, I didn't think my husband was the best father or best husband.  Great?  Sure.  Devoted?  Yes.  Best?  No.  Then again, when I examined myself, I realized I couldn't label myself a best mother or wife either.  Great? Some days. Devoted? Yes. Best? Certainly not. I could easily provide a laundry list of ways I could improve.

In the end, I decided to forego any card and bought some purple/gold yarn in the color of his favorite sports team to make him a hat--something persona yet practical.  Unfortunately, Valentines Day is over, and the hat is still a puddle of yarn on the sofa, three patterns having failed to either fit his big head or not make him look like Bigfoot in tights.  But, my gift of time was still appreciated for what it was--an expression of love.

My husband's gift, though, was unusually perfect, especially since he is not big on romance.  The poor man tries and occasionally succeeds, but it just doesn't come naturally to this only child farm boy.  The running joke in our family is that his idea of a marriage proposal was to have me type up case briefs as he dictated aloud for a few hours; then he bent down on one knee and popped the question.  Yeah.  Not so romantic. 

Even though he had no idea the problem I'd had with cards the previous week, his gift remedied the problem of the store bought Valentine.

In an unromantic Wal-mart bag was a simple, brown frame with the words "I love you today because..." along with a promise he would write on it at least once a week over the next year. It's an idea I'm sure he found online, but still, it rings such truth of our relationship and of marriage in general.

All I could think was, "Yes.  This is what those cards were missing."  With their sweeping, all-encompassing statements, they missed the day to day-ness of love, which changes sometimes hourly.  They spoke of feelings I don't always feel as a wife.

This simple frame which now hangs by my back door is such a healthier perspective from which to view one's marriage--as one day at a time, as real.

I love you today because you called the credit card company and fixed their clerical error when I didn't understand what they were talking about, much less how to insist that they fix it.

I love you today because you brought home extra packets of Chick Fil A sauce, because you watched an entire movie with me that you'd probably have never watched on your own, and because you picked up a gallon of milk so I didn't have to leave the farm.

I love you today because you didn't complain about the laundry not being folded after five days, because you turned off my morning alarm when you awoke early so I could sleep in, and because you offered to rub my aching feet even though you were exhausted, yourself. 

Yeah.  I can't see any of those making it onto a greeting card.  But they are the small acts of kindness that make my heart overflow with love for my husband today, tomorrow, and the next day.


  1. Ah, I love this! Practical, everyday, and TRUE :) Happy Valentine's to you both!

    1. Yes, Liza--both our men love us in their own, unique ways. Practical, everyday, and true. That's the kind of love I want when I'm ancient.