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Just dropping by: The right wish for Valentine's Day

Yevet Tenney Published on 31 January 2011

0211pc_tenney_1The store windows are full of red lacy hearts, Cupids with arrows, and boxes of chocolates. It’s time for that wonderful lovers’ day called Valentine’s Day.

I used to hate Valentine’s. It was a day of frustration and emptiness. As a spinster of 38, I hadn’t had much experience with Cupid. My friends got chocolates, flowers, and dates.

I would sit at home with my storybook fantasies and dream of the day when Prince Charming would ride out of the sunrise on his huge silver-white charger dressed in a suit of golden armor to sweep me off my feet. We’d ride off into the sunset to a glorious castle, where we would be married.

Then off to a perfect little cottage in the country, where we would live out our days in a wonderful state of bliss and happiness. Every day, I would be awakened by kisses and words of adoration from my beloved.

I would rise from my bed and throw open the lace curtains to shower sunshine upon my spotless bed chamber. I would sing a love song as I cooked breakfast.

My husband would rave about my perfect eggs, pancakes and bacon. Then my Prince Charming would float off to work in his Mercedes and leave me there with my computer to write wonderful poems and love stories that would inspire the next generation to greatness.

Now that Cupid has hit me with his arrow, my fantasies have all come true. Well, maybe the part that said: I got married and I get up in the morning and cook eggs, pancakes and bacon. The rest ... well, it’s a fantasy.

I used to feel cheated that things weren’t quite like I planned. I expected my life to be different. I had waited so long for perfection and here I was living in an imperfect marriage. My husband didn’t see things quite the way I did.

The flowers and the chocolates were rare, and he seldom commented on my breakfast. He didn’t tell me he loved me unless I reminded him, and he didn’t want to have lengthy conversations about the whiles and whims of life.

That was a shock! Talking was the most fun thing I could think of, and I thought everyone had to feel that way too. It wasn’t until I discovered that he had some fantasies too, that I started to realize that I might not be as perfect as I thought I was.

Dale Carnegie, in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” said, in effect, that success in marriage isn’t so much in finding the right person as being the right person. I thought I was the right person. I had developed all the qualities I thought a man would want.

I could cook, sew, clean and talk about any subject. I could dress nice and wear makeup. I was interested in reading, sports, and horseback riding. What more could a man want? On the surface those qualities sound good, but that is just what they are, surface stuff.

When you get right down to it, a man wants a woman to understand him from his point of view. He cares about how you look, but it’s more important how you sound. He wants a quiet, peaceful voice that knows how and when to shut up.

He wants a woman who doesn’t give him advice. It’s especially offensive to get advice on a subject a woman knows nothing about – like his job, the finances, and his car. He wants a woman who smiles a lot, doesn’t lose her temper, and is ready to drop everything and go when he’s ready to go. Peace is high on his priority list. His home should be a haven of peace.

I couldn’t understand why Reg, my husband, and I had problems at first. I expected him to say, “I love you.” He would kiss me on the back of the neck and hug me. That was his way of saying, “I love you.” I would pine away thinking he didn’t love me because he chose to spend so much time at work.

He would see my frustration and work harder to bring home a bigger paycheck because he thought I needed more of the comforts of life to make me happy.

If he came home depressed, I thought I needed to give him some advice and encourage him to talk about it. He would get angry because he didn’t think I trusted his ability to solve his own problems. It was a merry-go-round of frustrations. Because we both had our fantasies of the way things should be.

The proverb, “Love is blind and marriage is the eye-opener” is a true statement. Before you get married, you can see no faults. After you are married for a few years, you know every fault by heart, and have probably had a discussion about each one in detail.

The socks on the floor, the twisted toothpaste tube, the roll of toilet paper on the wrong way and the toilet seat problems are all in plain sight. You can’t hide a thing. It took me 10 years to realize that before marriage, love is blind; after marriage, you choose to put on blinders if you are going to be successful.

We had an old work horse when we were growing up. My grandfather would harness him with a bridle that had blinders on each side. I wondered why. Now I know. The blinders kept the workhorse from seeing all the rigging and chains that pulled the plow.

In effect, the blinders kept him from seeing the problems and kept his eyes focused on the road ahead. With his blinders, the workhorse could only see the barn, the blue sky, and the pasture.

He was content to wander up and down the rows dreaming of times to come. He never worried about the problems he was dragging behind him.

Marriage is like that. We can choose to focus on the problems, sidestep and kick at every new event, or we can choose to ignore the faults and focus on the barn, the blue skies, and the pasture.

I used to think that I had to see things exactly as they are. If there was a problem, I had to confront it square-on. I had to solve it, but after a while in marriage, I realized that what I perceive as a problem is not necessarily a problem that needs to be solved.

There are problems that belong to Reg. I need to trust that he can and will solve them. There are problems that will continue to be problems, no matter how I struggle with them. With those kinds of problems, sometimes it’s just better to get two tubes of toothpaste instead of sharing.

How can I put on blinders? Isn’t that creating a world of fantasy? Yes! But I realize we live with our own fantasies, and we can create them however we want. So why not create them in our favor?!

This Valentine’s Day, Reg will bring me a dozen red roses. He will tell me how he loves my pancakes, eggs and bacon. He will shower me with kisses and tell me a thousand sweet words.

Then we will wake up, and I will smile a peaceful smile and tell him how much I appreciate having a Valentine to love on Valentine’s Day.  end_mark