I haven’t posted in a long while. I’ve had lots of thoughts rolling around in my head, but never made the time or felt like I had any creative juices to put pen to paper (metaphorically). Now, here we are, three weeks postpartum with my third son, Silas. There’s such joy in NOT BEING PREGNANT. I love babies. Love, love, love babies. Being pregnant, however, even with a “normal” pregnancy, is so not my cup of tea. But that and Silas’ birth story is for another blogpost.
Today is Valentine’s Day. Yes, yes, an over-rated, over-priced, made up holiday to make single people feel bad and couples either fight because of unmet expectations or drive everyone else crazy with their audacity to be in love and happy on this, a most controversial day of the year. (Holy run on sentence, batman.)
I have never had high expectations for Valentine’s Day. Why? Because I married a farmer. And not just any farmer, a cattle farmer. An Albertan cattle farmer who calves during the winter. Although, to be honest, I’m not sure if it would make any difference if he were just a grain farmer. We don’t really go out much. I think our last theater movie was when the last Hobbit movie came out, and I’m pretty sure our last adult dinner date was a double date maybe a year ago.
In the first years of marriage, my inability to pry Sheldon off of his farm galled me. Special occasions often ended with me in tears and Sheldon in confused and disappointed silence. I wanted romance! I wanted to go out! I wanted planned surprises! … I just… never actually voiced those expectations until it was too late. And I eventually realized I was asking him (or not asking him, just expecting him to magically know what I wanted) to operate outside of his love languages and comfort bubble.
Sheldon is a romantic. In his own way. Not in my old preconceived, rather Hollywood-like, notions. We’ve been married over ten years now. (I KNOW! It’s crazy!) We haven’t had relationship melt-downs and communication break downs over special occasions in years. Why, though?
I started to be able to accept love in the ways Sheldon was showing it – and not just focus on the few ways he wasn’t. And Sheldon figured out what I needed to feel loved and appreciated. And you know how he figured it out – I TOLD HIM.
I know, it doesn’t seem that complicated. But it’s not just something that happened to us. I’ve had many friends tell me of their disappointments over the years when it came to their husbands planning something. So, I thought I’d impart my “wisdom” (ie: tips I learned the hard way over a couple years with many tears and tantrums because I am so mature) just in case there’s anything helpful to be gleaned from our story.
1. Talk to him. I know, I know, you want it to be a surprise, you want it to be spontaneous! Well, guess what? Some guys just aren’t planners. Some guys just aren’t spontaneous. Would you rather have a good time doing something that yes, you helped put together, or sit there in disappointment eating leftover meatloaf because you wanted him to surprise you with a steak dinner and he most definitely did not and now you are crying tears of sadness into your warmed up potatoes and he’s looking at you like you’re a crazy person?
2. The second point is attached to the first point. TALK. This does not mean “nudge in the right direction”. Nor does it mean hint. Obviously, these tips do not apply for those of you with husband’s that like to plan, surprise, and do that sort of thing. But for those of us with the other kind, don’t be vague. If you want flowers, inform him. If you want to go out to dinner, tell him you’d really like that. Take the guesswork out of it and there’s a greater chance it will happen.
3. Love languages. It may sound ridiculous, but I promise you, it’s not. If you haven’t already, figure out what things make your husband feel the most loved. Have an intimate conversation with your guy about the things that fill up your love tank. Gifts, acts of service, touch, words of affirmation, time… what means the most to you? Hopefully you married someone who wants you to feel loved, appreciated, and happy. A lot of times we show love in the same way we feel love. For example, one of my love languages is touch – but only for very specific people. I love my hair being played with, my back being rubbed, holding hands, him wrapping his arms around my waist ect. Now my go to for showing love is to rub his back – and guess what! He is one of the only men on earth who doesn’t like it! “It tickles” apparently. So I’m meaning to show love and instead I’m “pestering” him. Whoops. Knowing love languages is important, y’all.
4. Manage your expectations. Yes, exactly what you wanted to hear. But listen, this isn’t a romantic comedy. Having high expectations can take away from any small, but heartfelt, gesture they do. There’s a kind of give and take here. Yes, they should know your love languages, but you should also be aware of when they are showing you love in different ways. And plus, having a bit lower of expectations means you are more easily blown away if they do ever make a grand gesture.
That’s pretty much all I got. Like I said, Sheldon is a romantic, but not in the pre-planned, extravagant date night type of way. He’s not really all about surprises. When we do something, or he wants to buy me something, he wants me to really like it, so often times he will run it by me first. And you know what? It doesn’t kill the magic. Because the magic is that we are doing things to make each other know how much we love each other. Whether or not it’s a surprise, or who planned it, or whether or not we even leave the farm, isn’t the point.
And the cool thing is, since he knows I do like spontaneous things, he DOES surprise me sometimes. And how does he know I like it? I told him. He probably wouldn’t ever have done it otherwise, as he himself isn’t over fond of surprises. So, every once in awhile, he does something extravagant. Not often, but sometimes, which makes it all the more special. He’s sent me on a double date with my best friend for massages and pedicures and he’s set up a stay at the cabin for a few days. He shows love through gifts and acts of service – those come naturally to him, and he’s always been good at those (I know, I’m a lucky girl). The grand gesture thing isn’t a natural thing for him, but because he loves me, he gives it a go occasionally.
Flowers, chocolates, and cooking supper are natural for him – especially now that he knows it’s important for me to celebrate special occasions in some way, no matter what time of year, or how busy we are. I’ve managed my expectations – okay, we aren’t actually going to leave the farm – and he’s stepped up his game – making sure I still felt loved with flowers and chocolate and actually writing in a card instead of just signing his name. (it’s the little things, right?)
I’m so glad we don’t fight about this anymore. It leaves us so much more time to argue about the really important things; like squeaky doors, leaving dirty socks in my kitchen, and how I’m really bad at doing laundry. ;)