Guest Author - Lori Phillips
Valentine was a Roman priest who secretly married men and women during a time when Emperor Claudius II banned marriage. When his deeds were discovered, Claudius ordered his execution. Valentine was beheaded on February 14.
The rest of the facts are hazy but legend has it that he often traded notes between lovers to set up the clandestine nuptials. These love notes were the original "valentines."
Leave it to the forces of commercialism to turn Valentine's Day into the highest sales day of the year for jewelry, flowers, candy, and restaurants. The truest valentine is a simply heartfelt love note.
As a wife of 28 years, there is nothing more touching to me than the sentiments of the heart. Skip the heart-shaped boxes of candy, the flowers, and the diamonds. Tell me how you feel. It is my belief that because so many men (and women) find it difficult to express themselves in words, they try to find some other token or symbol to do it for them. (There is a language to gifts, and I wrote about it here.)
It isn't so hard to communicate your love in words. Here's a simple guideline that will help you choose your sentiments:
1. Address him/her with a term of endearment. Think about the salutation we use for letters: "Dear ___." We use it without thinking as we open even business letters with this greeting. Is the electric company representative really "dear" to you? For your love note, be personal and specific. "My beloved wife" "To the woman who is everything to me" "My honey bunny" "To my hero" "My precious love."
2. If it is hard for you to express yourself in words, tell her. "I'm not very good at writing" or "I've spent four hours trying to put into words what I mean to say." "I know I'm not the easiest person to be married to…" "I don't always tell you or show you what you mean to me but…" This shows the effort and thought that went into the note and that is part of the gift.
3. The words "I love you" come easily for some; not so for others. Either way, it is vital to spell it out: Write "I love you." Don't try to quantify it as in "I love you more than…." If you're not a poet, there's no need to wrack your literary brains over beautiful language. Please, no rhyming unless you're trying to be funny. (I have had boyfriends who really did send me their serious renditions of "Roses are red" and all were pitiful.)
4. Now, say why. Give a few details or examples of why you love him/her. Why those particular examples are more touching or meaningful to you. Try to be specific: Instead of saying, "I'm glad you're my wife" tell her "I am grateful to be able to come home to you after a long day because you're my home. You make me feel_____."
5. Add some of the smaller things you love about him/her. We often speak of the grand, over-reaching reasons ("You're the mother of my children") but they're often the obvious. Let him/her know you notice every little detail. For example, I love the way my husband always reaches for my hand while he's driving to kiss my palm. Or how he never leaves or returns without giving me a kiss.
6. Acknowledge his/her role in your life and express your gratitude. "I am so thankful that you're not only my spouse but you're my best friend, too." "I'm grateful to be married to you." Something I've told my husband is that whenever I get really down and depressed about myself, believing that I am worthless and unloved even by God, I look at the people around me and see that I must be worth something to be given a wonderful, loving husband and devoted children. God must deem me deserving of such great gifts. And this realization pulls me out of the dark pit. My husband's love for me keeps me in the light.
7. Revisit a shared dream…or share a new one. "I know that life has been tough. Let's take time out just for us. "Let's be sure that we always remember this started out as you and me. What do we want to do with the rest of our lives? Let's come up with new dreams." Young lovers only dream about a life together. Marrieds must remember that being married is their privilege and how good it feels to be together without anyone else standing in their way. They can live their dream so make it a good one.
8. Sign off with his/her pet name for you. If you don't have one, come up with one for each other. No one else need know of it. It can be one of your little love secrets and those are so bonding. It doesn't have to be silly or humiliating either. I simply call my husband Scotty (I'm the only one who can) while he uses my middle name.
Through the years, we've exchanged many valentines. I keep all of his notes in a velvet-covered, heart-shaped box that once held chocolates he gave me. The chocolates are long gone, of course, but those sweet love notes touch my heart over and over again. If you haven't written your spouse a love note, I encourage you to do so at least once during your marriage. I promise you that it will be the most cherished gift of all.