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The Day is almost upon us and a woman can hardly enter a grocery store or florist shop without bumping into a man with his arms full of flowers.

Have you ever noticed that a man holds a bouquet of flowers up and out from his body, kind of like an Olympic torch? Take a good look at the next man you see who has just purchased some Valentine’s flowers and see if you don’t catch a look of triumph and pride on his face.

That look of victory is there for good reason. After surviving the stress of Christmas, here come the Valentine’s Day ads. These ads are targeted at women but the pressure is on men. The message to men is clear, “Men, if you really love her you will buy her something…and that something will be very expensive.”

In the back of every good-hearted man’s mind there lurks that niggling question,
“Will flowers be enough? What if she is thinking jewelry?” Oh help me Lord!

Men have good reason to worry because, let’s be honest ladies, Valentine’s Day is a big deal for women. It’s a big deal for us because, way back in our minds we have this niggling little worry,
“Does he really love me? Is this love that we have ‘it’?”

We want that sweeping, swooning, love like we see in the movies (that’s why most marriage books are read by women and the chick-flick industry is going strong).

We also like foo foo and candy and sweet little nothings written on cards and carved into chalky tasting candy hearts and (if we’re honest with ourselves) we love the envious looks our friends and relations give us when the man in our life makes some crazy, creative, romantic gesture.

Valentine’s Day is fun. It’s romantic. And it puts a lot of pressure on our men.

As a younger woman, I put a lot of pressure on my husband.

I thought I knew what love looked like and the flowers he picked out of the New Mexico State University Agriculture garden for free did not look like love!

While I was busy getting my feelings hurt, I failed to notice all the ways that he showed real love to me.

He’s always defended me. He’s really good at that.

Over the years he’s worked at jobs he hasn’t particularly liked just to provide for us.

He gets angry and blows it…and apologizes.

He’s put his jeans back on in the middle of the night to go hunt up something at the store to make my pregnant stomach feel better and he’s done this more times than I can count.

He’s rented a carpet shampooer to clean baby vomit off the couches and ended up spending his one free weekend doing the entire house because I insisted.

He once brought home a pregnant nanny goat in the back of our mini-van because I got it into my head that our little acreage was The Little House on the Prairie except I forgot we didn’t have a truck or a trailer to transport the brainless mother-to-be. I’ve never forgotten the look on that poor man’s face as he drove up our driveway with the van full of excited children and a bleating goat. He had that what-has-she-gotten-us-into-now look…

He says those magic words to me, “What would you like me to make you to eat?” and then he makes it…better than a restaurant.

He thanks me, often, for giving him eight children. That really makes my heart go pitter pat.

My husband has also gotten really good at giving special gifts and beautiful cards. Those are fun and wonderful and sweet but they don’t really prove his love like all the other things he does.

We have that swooping, swooning, epic kind of love but it looks and feels different than the movies. It is better. Real love means commitment and forgiveness and sacrifice and being there.

So what if he buys you a new set of dish towels for a gift and doesn’t bring you a soppy card or a box of chocolates? I’ll just bet that the man in your life is doing an awful lot of things right.

“When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.”
― Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

Give him a big kiss and tell him that out of all the men in the world, he is your hero.
Choose to have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.