I just spent an hour reading Valentine’s Day cards in a couple stores today. I am quite sure that I will be seeing red hearts when I close my eyes tonight.
Spending an hour looking at greeting cards might sound painful to you. But that’s not the pitiful part. The sad thing is that I did not find a card for my husband, after all that.
But I have an idea: I am going to write my own valentine.
Many women—myself included—are delighted to receive love letters. And lace-trimmed valentines professing deep, ardent love? We are ready to clasp them tightly, tie a red ribbon around them, and keep them forever.
But do you know what happens when my husband opens a card with a lot of sentimental words in it? I watch his eyes glaze over until he feels that sufficient time has passed so that he can close the card politely and eat the chocolate.
Perhaps you have watched your husband’s eyes as he opened a card (one that someone probably spent an hour hunting for), and you detected a definite deer-in-the-headlights expression.
Author Emerson Eggerichs has also noticed this greeting-card dilemma. In his book Love and Respect, he writes that the store shelves are bulging with cards that say, “I love you,” but there are no cards that say, “I respect you.”¹
And why is that a problem?
Eggerichs and others, such as Shaunti Feldhahn,² explain that men spell love R-E-S-P-E-C-T. These marriage experts emphasize that messages of respect are usually what husbands most need to hear. Eggerichs says, “If [a man’s] marriage is typical, after the first year, he will know his wife loves him but will feel she neither likes him nor admires him for who he is as a human being.”³
So … I am thinking that I will give my husband a valentine that professes deep respect and ardent admiration. I will tell him not only that I respect him but also why. I will tell him that I appreciate his hard work and selflessness. I will tell him that I admire his integrity, his brilliance, and his many skills. I will tell him that he is a great success in my eyes and that I respect him as my hero.
By then, he will know that I love him, but I will slip that in there, too. (And maybe even a little red heart.)
I am no pro at this. But I have learned that my husband thinks differently than I do. He feels differently, interprets things differently, and reads cards differently. I don’t take my husband to my favorite restaurant for his birthday, so why would I give him my kind of valentine?
Perhaps you would like to write a “respect” valentine, too. If you need some help getting started, remind your man (and yourself) that he has been made in the image of God Almighty. Tell him that he has been designed for greatness, and created for strength and success.
With sincerity, write your husband a letter that causes him to stand taller after he reads it. Maybe you will glimpse even a bit of a swagger. (You get bonus points for that.)
Let’s give it a try. We can always have plenty of chocolate as a back-up plan.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
¹page 48. Nelson. 2004.
²For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men. Multnomah. 2013.