Friday, February 13, 2009

A Week of Love Conclusion

Today is another Valentine's Day and again I have followed the pattern of success and expect a wonderful evening with our parents and my siblings and spouses. I gave bags of candy to each of my children's families and actually sent cards to my grandchildren on time this year....and am depending on the post office to deliver them on time. I have planned a meal, desserts and taken the focus off of me this year and placed it on others....because I have found it truly is more blessed to give than it is to receive.

Living a life of love daily is more rewarding than a life of regret or a life of resentment.
At the end of my life when I stand before God I don't want to have to try to explain a broken marriage....
"well, he never brought me flowers......"

Face it! No one can love you perfectly or as much as you want.....only God can do that.

I have learned:
....that if you expect something you had better have communicated your expectations because he can not read your mind.
....that if you plan something you need to be sure it is in his plans. too.
....that the sexes have different ideas of how to express love.
....and that the problem with us begins with me.
....I can only change me and if I plan to change him I need to be prepared for disappointment.
....and that life is better with him than without him.
....for him to feel love I had better learn his love language (take the quiz The Five Love Languages)

So for this day of love I wish for you a lifetime of loving.
Happy Valentine's Day.

Saying I love you should really mean I have found in you a person whom I respect and find qualities that I can appreciate and have chosen to treat you lovingly for the rest of my life, putting your concerns and happiness ahead of mine.

And thanks for hanging in there with me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Week of Love (Continued Part 5)

.....Another year and I planned to get it right this time. But no big surprise gifts to be misunderstood, no more stars in my eyes as to what romance is, and no room for resentment....this year WILL be different.
After all I had enough practice by now on how not to do it.
The odds were in my favor....right?

On Sunday afternoon Holly and I started off by making the candy centers and sugar cookies and dipped the centers as time permitted during the week. I put together a great menu for our special supper together ended with the creme de la creme dessert....a new recipe I found that looked especially intriguing...a chocolate ganache cake.

In the approaching days I greeted him with a special measure of enthusiasm each day, looked at him while he talked, listened to his more time, sat next to him on the couch while we watched our big screen TV after the meal and we held hands....while he slept.

The evening of Valentine's Day we invited our parents in to share our evening with us. I can not remember the conversation but I remember the love that flowed around that table and the smiles and laughter. If I received flowers or candy I can not remember them either now but what I do know is that the good feeling lasted for a very long time.

....."OH, BOY!"
We got it right!

To be continued....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Week of Love (Continued Part 4)

...Somewhere between the candy hearts and the broken hearts love happened.

The problem with love is the Hollywood packaging we buy into. We are led to believe it is all flutters and giggles and romance but really .............
love is that thing that follows.....
that grows from the first day you were attracted to each other and ripens and ferments over the years.

So I turned off the soap operas and closed the sexy romance novels forever and closed that chapter in my life and began to look at the older man who sat across from me and saw the young man I loved....imperfect just as I am, aging as gracefully as we can, silver streaking our hair, lines around our eyes.....

Valentine's Day this year would be really special. I decided to buy the guy something really big and something he would love....a big screen TV.

What guy would not like that?
Men like the noisiest trucks,
the most powerful guns,
the grungiest boots ....
I saved up enough money, watched for the sales, talked to salesmen, made my purchase and arranged delivery on Valentine's Day.

I could hardly contain myself with excitement over my secret. I knew he would love it.
It was big....not the biggest available, but as big as our space would allow without building on.....
The day came and with the help of the two young men I had convinced to assist me it was placed in it's corner and connected for use.

He walked in,
me:all smiles and excited,
he looked at the TV and said, "What did you do?"

So excited and proud of myself for doing such a good thing for my husband, I said, "Happy Valentine's Day. I bought this for you."

He looked at it and then disagreed, '"You bought that for yourself so you can watch your HG stuff on it."
He did have a slight smile on his face as he accused me of making the purchase for myself but the statement was what he truly believed and it was the farthest thing from the truth.

I protested his statement but to no avail. My enthusiasm began to fade and I felt unappreciated and unloved.

All I really wanted was his appreciation for my efforts or to hear him praise my ability to surprise him, or offer some words to make me feel important to him...he didn't even need to buy anything for me if he had played his hand better. Instead, he had insulted me, been unappreciative of my gift to him and to make things even worse he was empty handed.

My love bucket had a huge leak in it and I no longer felt his love flowing into it.

....the day was not over yet and realizing that this day was taking a turn for the worse he made a hurried trip to town in search of something to sooth my hurt feelings, returning with a package of wrapped carnations from HEB's floral department. Taking the flowers from his hand I plunged them into a vase of water, I thanked him somewhat unenthusiastically and continued preparing the evening meal.

Oh, how difficult relationships can be.
Why did the marriage license not come with an instruction manual?

To be continued....

A Week of Love (Continued Part 3) the business of being a wife and mother got well under way the responsibilities became heavier and heavier and I was often physically tired and emotionally drained.... just a couple of the side effects of having a family if a list exists.

The poor man who loved me.
In my eyes
....He did not come home early enough,
....he did not take me places often enough,
....he did not send me flowers,
....he did not say the things I wanted to hear,
....or do the things I wanted him to do and
....he would wait until late in the day to even think about what he was going to do for me.
After all, wasn't Valentine's Day the day for him to express his love to ME?

I was always sweet to him,
made his meals,
cleaned his clothes,
did all those special things for him
and was me who gave him children!

He would come home happy to be there and immediately his attentions were directed to the children and the squeals of the children and his roar to scare them announced his arrival to me while I worked preparing for our meal.

I showered my attention on the children more and him less.
I made sure my children had the candy or sweet cards or little gifts
him just a card.

We both grew away from each other........and the years rolled on.

We were no longer so young but still we both had much to learn.

When would we ever learn?

To be continued...

Yes, I have tears in my eyes!!!!
Okay, really they are pouring down my cheeks. Oh, kids coming in.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Week of Love (Continued)

Continued from A Week of Love

.......The years rolled by and with each coming year for a while a child was added to our brood, making money a little tight, time a little pressed and tensions a lot higher.

Valentine's Day became just another day. Grandma would always bring the little ones a red heart sucker. Promptly as the suckers were unwrapped the kids were placed in the bathtub to keep their sticky fingers off of the walls and furniture. They learned the routine and would bring me a sucker and start for the bathroom.

I guess they outgrew that.

I loved to get the children the conversation hearts.......pure sugar.

They never outgrew that.

The chocolate in heart shaped boxes started rolling in each year, usually bought by me and sometimes from a grandparent or two but were always shared by the whole family. It was not unusual to find a box of empty wrappers and crushed chocolates because someone liked only the ones with the nuts in them.

Flowers never came from a florist and back then I can not remember the store carrying flowers like they do now. If I received a flower it was picked from one of the blooming bushes in the fence rows. The first one I received graciously since I had never seen the bloom and it was a novel idea. It was a full length of a branch with many yellow brushy blooms and smelled sweet and as he gave it to me he said he thought of me as he passed by it on the tractor.

But in coming years when I began to hear the stories of all the good things the other husbands were doing for their wives I was resentful of a husband arriving empty handed late into the evening with just a little blooming stick from the fence row tucked in his pocket.

And it did not satisfy me.

It was difficult for me to recognize the sacrifices he had made of his time to keep us fed and clothed.
But I was young and had much to learn.

To be continued.

A Week of Love

I am afraid that we often set ourselves up for disappointment where our relationships are concerned. Now after many, many years of experience and a lot of growing up I am able to look back on my life, although with a bit of embarrassment, with the knowledge that I could have prevented much heartache had I just been a little wiser, learned to listen to unspoken messages, looked at the heart of the one who loved me, communicated my thoughts and expectations and been more forgiving of his shortcomings. So if you will indulge me a little while I remember some past Valentines Days we can laugh together and hopefully glean a little something from them.

Our first Valentine's Day together was as a married couple since we had only known each other for eight months total and six of those months were the dating months. We were still learning how to love each other and both full of anticipation of what we wanted from each other and here it was Valentine's Day before we fully communicated our expectations.

Being newlyweds and crazy in love I looked forward to his return home. Daily I listened for the sound of his truck rattling down our street and finally turning into our rocky driveway clattering so much it sounded like every bolt had shaken loose on the ol' Ford. By the end of the first month I could distinguish his rattle from all the other noisy trucks. Today, I was especially anxious to have our romantic evening together. I had been planning our time together for a couple of weeks. There would be a heart shaped box of chocolates for him, a romantic card professing my love and of course, I would make his favorite pie. I had planned my action!

I listened and listened for the familiar rattle and finally I could faintly hear it....still daylight out even. He clattered into the driveway, drove up nearly even with the kitchen window, without even looking in my direction slammed on his brakes, threw the truck in reverse and raced down the street in the opposite direction he had originally come.

My first clue that the evening was not planned on his part.

Shortly after he returned with a very small paper sack and in it was a package of Brach's candy corn....not even red, no flowers, no card.... nothing but candy corn.

I remember looking at the candy corn and saying, "...but this is Halloween candy, not Valentines candy."

He was so proud of himself for remembering that it was my favorite candy
.....and I was so disappointed it was not Valentine candy in a heart shaped box.

I said, "You waited so late you could not get a heart shaped box of candy?"

"Oh, sure, there were lots of them and men were grabbing them up. I could have gotten one for you but I knew you loved candy corn."

Looking back there were several things that did disappoint me about the evening but I wonder now why I could not listen to his heart. We had still been dating on Halloween. He remembered me saying then that I loved candy corn.

But I was eighteen, he was twenty-three....we had a long way to go..

To be continued....