Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Unscripted Romance

I'm not very good explaining why Valentine's Day isn't a really big deal for me.  It usually ends up coming across as a judgement on the way others do it.  Believe me, it's not!  I've thoroughly enjoyed everyone's romantic updates on Facebook.

You see, if I'd married a man who was a crazy romantic and loved setting up secret rendezvous and writing steamy sonnets, I'm sure I'd love it!  I'm very romantic at heart.  But I didn't.

When the honeymoon was over, I needed to learn to really love the good man I married.  The committed, for better or for worse, until death do us part, on good days and bad days, kind of love.  Yes, he needed to learn to love me in ways that are meaningful to me too--but I didn't/don't get to demand that or the timetable.

It was sometime during the years when all three of the kids were preschoolers (two still in diapers) and I a sleep-deprived wreck, that I realized I felt pretty despondent about the unromantic state of our matrimony.  Actually, there were times I felt downright angry and indignant.  I was trying so hard to do all the things I was supposed to do (according to the books I'd read) to keep up my end of the deal.  I could have listed all the things he wasn't doing that I thought he should have been doing.  This included being more "romantic."  He wasn't following my script.  At all.  The script seemed so reasonable to me.  It seemed others were following it.

I was offended.

Offended.  Not ticked or annoyed.  Offended.  In the core of me resentment and a sense of self-righteousness had taken root.  It doesn't take a genius to recognize this wasn't headed in a very good direction.  I felt a little terrified and helpless.

The kindness and patience of God is abundantly obvious to me because He speaks into the turbulence of our lives.  Maybe I was just uninformed.  Maybe we just have to learn some lessons through the process.  Whatever the case, it certainly wasn't out of my own wisdom that I figured out the key.  I needed to forgive him.  Not because he said sorry.  Perhaps he hadn't done anything wrong.  I needed to forgive because through pain and disappointment I had let offense take root in my heart.

I needed to forgive him for failing to meet my expectations.

I was really and truly afraid that by letting going of my expectations maybe I was letting him off the hook...losing control...and maybe somehow losing hope of him loving me in a way that felt meaningful to me.  I felt like I was letting go of some of my rights.  In a wild and reckless bid for freedom I chose forgiveness anyway.

I never said a word to him about it, but something changed, something shifted, in our marriage that day.   What I did was set him free to love me the way that had been in his heart to love me all along.  I think it may have become less intimidating to express love to me.  I was set free to recognize his love in ways I hadn't been able to before.

He is actually very romantic--it's just not according to the script and I was missing it all when I was angry.  I couldn't receive the gifts he was trying to give to me when my hands were full of my own expectations.

I read The Five Love Languages and began to make the translation from his love language to mine.  I've learned to see the way he immediately fixes a loose handle on a pot as an expression of tenderness.  When he builds something for our home his fingers are fashioning poetry in wood.  The twinkle in his eyes now speaks volumes to me--even when he doesn't have words.  I learned to choose to express love in ways that are meaningful to him and not just instinctive to me.  We're both still learning--'til death do us part.  Why don't they make movies about stuff like that?

I've had to lay down my expectations again and again, only to discover a hundred other ways he loves me.  Roses may not be delivered today because the calendar says he must or because I've badgered him into it, but someday when his heart tells him I need a boost he'll bring me a bouquet.  I'll feel like the luckiest woman alive.

He's a prince among men and I wouldn't trade him for anybody.

I have learned to truly love the person I married.

In fact, I'm crazy about him.

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave.
Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame.

Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it.
If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth,
his offer would be utterly scorned.

Song of Songs 8:6-7


  1. The sermon on Sunday was about how we turn our dreams and desire about our spouse into expectations, whether or not those dreams are what God had in store for us. Since hearing that 2 days ago I have had 3 different sources tell me basically the same thing.... Hmmm is He trying to tell me something?!

    1. Well, you could wait for writing on the wall... ;-) Just kidding. Thanks for telling me. This wasn't an easy post to share with the whole world so your comment actually helps me feel like I'm on the right track by taking the risk.

    2. I did wait, it came on my FB wall! Thanks for writing it. Sometimes we get a nudge from a totally unexpected source to help us see an angle to our relationships and you were that nudge for me. Great post.

  2. Thanks for being so genuine. The Five Love Languages is a good book, for sure.

    And the reason there are no movies about this stuff is because they haven't been written!

  3. Love it! Sometimes we have expectations about this day built on movies and cultural expectation, but I've found having an everyday Valentine to far exceed special treatment on just one day! I was actually thinking of blogging about my everyday Valentine today, but you said so much of what I wanted to say and did it so much more eloquently! ;)

    1. Aw! I love reading what you write...please write it someday?

  4. Love it! There should be more movies about this kind of love. I love the picture of you two laughing. Happy Valentine's Day!

    1. Thanks, Hannah. The story behind the picture makes it perfect because it was one of those moments he just wouldn't cooperate with my expectations--and we chose laughter!

  5. I have an "everyday" Valentine too. Ticks me off sometimes. And sometimes I'm just plain angry. Then I begin to question my value or worth--- and think that if only I was a better wife, better mom... better something.... I might be worth him spending a little extra money or making some sort of genuine effort to let me know in a special way that he really cares and values me. But, I also don't want forced love nor do I want him to feel obligated. I have a wonderful man who is an awesome father, a wonderful friend, undemanding, kind, trustworthy, never have to worry about him running off with another woman or abusing his wife or kids, who loves me for who I am... and just the way that I am. Perhaps that's worth more than I can ever comprehend. But it is hard looking at everyones flowers, chocolates, gifts... without a little bit of ache and longing for the same kind of expression. It also shows me that I still have trouble believing who God says I am and being fully persuaded in my heart and mind of my value and worth.

    1. Jenn, I totally relate to your pain. This was a tough post to write, but I felt compelled knowing that this is not an uncommon story. Keep seeking the face of your Father who adores you and thinks your value is beyond compare. Growing in that love makes you irresistibly beautiful. Blessing you and your marriage and your beautiful children. God is working something beautiful in your lives.