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.
What is Valentine’s Day without special treats?
If the love of your life gets happy over a big ol’ hunk of meat and a bunch of greasy fries and salt, give it to him for Valentine’s Day! Why not? The point is to make him happy, right?
Then, have a little fun and follow it up with one of these gooey, ooey sweet things. I’ve thrown in a few that are good for you, too!
You don’t have to spend a lot to let someone know that you are thinking of them.
Happy Valentine’s Day Generational Womanhood readers!
It’s a toss-up for me…Valentine’s Day or Thanksgiving Day? Which one is my favorite?
In the grey blah of February, I’ll take lots of pink and red and sugar anytime!
Our family has tea parties this time of year and it’s a good excuse to pretty up the house.
Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to tell your entire family how much you love them. Here are some awesomely creative ways to do that and they don’t cost much at all. Check out this Exploding Love Box.
Or…how about a message in a balloon, complete with confetti?
Here’s one that might be especially meaningful to a child. Simple and special! Fill a jar with lots of reasons why you love them!
1. Decorate everything with candy canes and big bows. If they are those big, chunky candy canes even better! Tie them on the tree, lay greens (artificial or natural) down the middle of the table and garnish the greens with candy canes, tie them on the porch railing with greens looped in between…you get the idea.
After the holiday, crunch up the uneaten candy canes to use in cookies, on ice cream and elsewhere.
Biblical mentoring…does it matter? This video from Revive Our Hearts reminded me of the importance of passing on the faith to other women.
Just because it’s that time of year and you’re going to be eating goodies anyway, whip up these easy, peasy coconut balls. They’re gluten free.
Are you the mama of a toddler? Christmas can cause an already active little one to go a little beserk! Keep your little one busy with these creative, low-cost ideas.
Finally (because I don’t want you to be a dumb cluck), consider this; We are the Sorter-Outers of Our Children’s Hearts
Have a blessed week!
We’re continuing with Sarah’s interview. Sarah is a great example of the choices that women make in order to be a “stay-at-home mom” (a term I don’t like because it doesn’t communicate the kind of action and initiative that it takes to be a mom who works within the home).
To read the beginning of this interview, start here.
What I did do in college was miss my family members birthday celebrations, anniversaries, and reunions. I lost touch with my cousins because we were all so busy studying. I tolerated jobs and people that I normally would have avoided like the plague.
Another thing I would have done differently is I would not have invested the time, effort, and money in a “career”. I would have simply worked at a “job”. I really enjoyed working as an assistant manager for a condominium complex during the week and waiting tables in a family diner on the weekends right after college. I was comfortable with the skills required and enjoyed the people I worked with. I could have left the workforce quickly and easily when I became pregnant. I made enough money to live on my own without roommates or support from family. With hindsight, I would have kept those jobs instead of striving for the brass ring promotions and continued to share an apartment with friends and saved money.
After years of climbing the corporate ladder I had nothing to show for it except a fancy title on a business card and a lifestyle that was impossible to support if I wanted to stay home and raise my child. I would have had more money in the bank if I had saved and lived frugally in a job that was less prestigious and paid a smaller wage/salary instead of “investing in myself” and spending money on professional clothes (required), a car (required), various professional licensing fees (required), fees to join professional organizations, professional development classes, networking, etc.
Instead of being mentally challenging and stimulating, my career became an obstacle and stressful. My husband I have talked about the hypothetical “mulligan” and we both agree that I should have given my two week notice and never looked back the second we found out I was pregnant.
I loved your suggestion to the mother who chooses to live frugally but gets discouraged by the hard work or change in lifestyle. You said, “Go hug your child and you will realize it is all worth it.” Precious words!
Thank you! Other than the occasional “rough day”, most families will find that their lifestyle improves. You will have less money but you will have more time and pleasant home. Your husband will have a place where he can actually relax. Your children will have a space to feel completely safe. Hard work at home is not as emotionally draining as hard work at an outside the home job. A rough day at home is exponentially less brutal than a rough day “at work”.
Has it been humbling to live differently? What sort of reaction have you experienced from family and friends?
It has been so humbling to live differently, but not just because we have embraced frugal living. Having a child took me out of a vapid, plastic, shiny, manufactured world filled with fake things of artificial importance. Having a child made me realize that I really wanted to stay home. How much we really have compared to most. How fortunate I am to have a husband who knew I was the best person to raise our daughter and that he wanted me home too!
I think becoming humble is a process that will take my entire life. However, there are some “eureka” moments. For example, when I first began shopping at thrift stores for clothing in an effort to reduce our expenses so I could come home, my mindset hadn’t changed much yet. I saw patterned turtlenecks for my daughter being sold for $1.80 each and I looked through the racks and picked out eight without rips or stains. I rationalized that the cost of one turtleneck new was about $20 and I was getting eight for less than that! I was so full of pride – what a deal I found! I was so puffed up and so nauseatingly pleased with myself, I couldn’t wait to brag about my amazing shopping skills to my husband and get compliments. Another Mother and her two children were looking through the racks too. I heard the Mother tell her children that she could only buy two turtlenecks because that was all they could afford. What a humbling moment. My daughter didn’t need eight turtlenecks – eight were enough to dress her in a different turtleneck every day of the week with an extra. She also had other shirts at home. I originally went there to purchase one for her to wear under a particularly “scratchy” sweater. I bought one turtleneck. To think that I even considered buying eight to “save money”!
I often think about that bit of conversation between the other Mother and her children. It was the first time I have ever heard a parent tell a child in public that they could not afford something. Usually parents say something along the lines of, “well we can talk about it later”, or, “you can put it on your birthday/Christmas list/wish list”. We do our children no favors by speaking to them in euphemistic terms. I make an effort now when my daughter asks for something at a store to simply say, “no we can’t afford it”. It isn’t I couldn’t find a way to buy the $12 piece of lead laden plastic from China, it is the fact that $12 should go into savings. It is humbling to realize that it is my calling to teach our child how to budget and delay immediate wants.
My family has been amazingly supportive of our frugal lifestyle. Other than being extremely worried about what would happen to us if my husband lost his job (I assure them we are working very hard to save) there have been no negative comments. Many family members have even said very positive things to us. Most helpfully family members have been fine with our decision to not “do” a ton of presents from the big box store type of Christmas. It takes the pressure off of them to shop for the extended family and they can focus on their immediate family members.
When there are family invitations to events that exceed our budget, I make an effort to be honest and matter of fact when I decline. For example, many family members go on vacations together at resort type areas. We don’t want to pay for a resort type vacation. When we decline we make sure that we have them over or go to visit at every opportunity. We emphasize that we love their company we are just not in a position to travel. When they offer to pay for us we also politely decline.
My husband’s friends didn’t really notice a change in our lifestyle. They already tended to socialize and participate in activities together that didn’t cost money. Sadly, most of my friends were not supportive at all…
..to be continued…
What advice do you have to women who want to stay home with their children?
Want to make my birthday happy? I want to hear from you so leave a comment (pretty please with a candle on top?) and share one thing that you love to do for your children or loved one to make their birthday special.
I’ll start by sharing one of our silliest traditions!
Years ago, I knew a family that decorated the birthday child’s room after the child was asleep. They would sneak in and hang crepe paper, balloons and a sign and in the morning when sleepyhead’s eyes opened; ta dah!
We loved that idea and we started the tradition off with a bang. I’m pretty sure for at least the first year we did crepe paper and balloons. Then, our own personal “great depression” hit and we couldn’t afford crepe paper or balloons! So, we began toilet-papering the rooms and when I say, “we,” I am happy to report that this was one tradition my husband was very involved in! Farris children tend to be poor sleepers so the two of us often had to wait until the wee hours of the night to tip-toe in and throw the toilet paper roll across the sleeping bodies. It brought back fond memories of our college toilet-papering exploits! The child woke up to birthday chaos…and loved it!
Just to prove to you that we’re not totally low-class at our house, over the years our children have usually requested cheesecake for their birthday!
What about you? What tradition or silly memory can you share from your life? Can’t wait to hear from you!
Back when I was a clueless fiancee’ and knowing that I was on my way to being a clueless newlywed, I read every marriage book I could get my hands on. I also watched (with an eagle eye) the married couples in my church. I would see them grocery shopping together and my mouth would hang open. Wow! I had never seen that before. I would watch couples when they disagreed in public and I would notice when (and how) they dealt with it.
The church was my little marriage “incubator” and God used it, mightily, to mature me and put flesh on the marriage advice I had only read about.
Back in the little hippie town of I grew up in, it wasn’t cool to be a family man or a committed wife and homemaker. No, the really hip thing was to trade the old model of spouse in for a new one and go do drugs with the young girlfriend. Role models I did not have.
So, I’ve spent a lot of time reading good and bad books on the subject of marriage and worrying too much about doing it right. I don’t have a lot of books I recommend to new couples but I recently read two books that gave me new insights into male and female behavior. Yes, I’ve been married for more than thirty-one years and it makes me very happy to understand my husband more deeply.
For Women only by Shaunti Feldhahn and For Men Only by Shaunti and her husband, Jeff Feldhahn, are small, easy- to- read books packed with insight and wisdom based, primarily, on Shaunti’s careful research. Shaunti’s background is impressive; she has a Master’s Degree from Harvard and has worked on Wall Street and Capital Hill. She is also a committed Christian and applies her analytical skills to helping men and women better understand each other.
These books were updated and expanded in March so, if you have read the old version, they’ve been improved!
We’ve all heard that respect is important to men but, according to the men who answered Shaunti’s questions, respect is love! Indeed, it is so important to a man that most would live without love and choose to be respected instead!
Another revelation was that to most men, the burden of providing for their family never goes away even if their wives work and make a good income.
For Men Only really should be read just by men but, because I had to read it to review it, I must say that it is the most user-friendly marriage book for men I’ve ever read. It is short and it is funny. Who knows? Your husband may actually read it!
I am a reviewer for Lorrie Flem and was generously provided with an extra set of these books to give away! I would love to give them to you.
To win a set of these books for men and women, please leave a comment on this post sharing what you R E S P E C T about your husband or the man in your life (your dad or brother or boyfriend). I will draw a winner a week from today (June 25th)!
Not only can you win a complete set from me but, if you visit Lorrie Flem’s website, you can win a bundle with the DVD! Wow! The bundle will include the NEW DVD study that came out June 18th and includes a men’s study, women’s study and couples study along with the leader guide and a copy of For Women Only, and For Men Only books.
Do you want to watch a video of Shaunti to see what she says about the books? Check her out!
Don’t forget that you can sign up for Lorrie’s free quarterly online magazine. It’s full of encouragement and practical advice.
**As a member of the Gabby Moms Review Team, I was given a free copy of the books in exchange for my review.**
“For a long time they kept to the backbone of the wild tangled ridge but at last started zig-zagging down the farther side. They found a dead tree with funguses sticking out of it in balconies and terraces. Julian cut off the largest one to keep; and a little later he caught a Catocala moth, whose dowdy upper wings concealed a beautiful scarlet pair beneath, like two geranium petals. When he popped it into the killing jar, Portia had to look away. She hated to see it killed, but it was dead in less than a second, and then she didn’t mind any more.
At the foot of the hill the woods kept on going. Portia and Julian kept on going, too.
“Man, am I lost!” Julian said. “So are you. I don’t know where we are at all!” He sounded very happy about this. Portia didn’t mind herself; it was daytime and summertime and she was with him.” Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
Summer is the time to s l o w dowwwn! I am officially giving you permission to take some time and savor the hours and minutes of each day. If well-intentioned friends try to tempt you with endless activities and outings just smile and say,
“Oh, I’m sorry but my Auntie Jill says I need to slow down.”
See, there, how easy it is?
Summer should be a time of laziness with a little bit of boredom mixed in. Read some good books, drink ice cold lemonade and smile at your children as they traipse in and out sucking on popsicles and running through the sprinkler.
When your children look back on the summers of their childhood they might recall the trip to Disney Land and the expensive summer camp but I’ll lay you money that their happiest memories will be the simplest ones; long summer evenings playing cards and sucking on ice, getting “lost” somewhere they’ve never been before (even if it’s around the corner), playing in water, getting hot and cooling off, visiting the cool interior of the public library on a scorching day, grilling something, charring sticks in a campfire, sunshine.
Do you have happy memories of slow summer days? Then you are fortunate, indeed!
Give your children the gift of a long summer days spent outside playing capture the flag and hide-n-seek. They will never have this kind of time again.