I mentioned to a friend that for a change I was considering writing about Valentine’s Day from a man’s point of view. Instead of focusing on what we women want, I would write a column about what men want. She snickered and asked, “how many words do you have to write again?”. “Seven hundred,” I answered. “What are you going to say for the other 699?”
We females tend to believe men are a little bit like dogs; they’re just not that complicated. Give them some affection and they’ll be perfectly content. In fact, that’s why they spend their lives following us around with their tongues hanging out. They’re begging us to give them what they most want, and no matter how many times we rebuff them, they never give up trying.
And that’s why women can get grumpy when we think about what our husbands expect on Valentine’s Day. Their demands seem kind of, well, pathetic. Our demands, on the other hand, are lofty, noble, and certainly justified. We want romance, and mystery, and a gift that doesn’t go in the laundry room. After all, we spend every other day of the year looking after everybody else. Today should be our day.
That kind of superior attitude must be really annoying to men. We’re so sure we deserve all the adulation, because we think we’re the ones who do all the real work for the house, the family, even the relationship. I think, though, that that’s mostly because we value what we do, and not what they do. We forget that we married these men because they were different from us. And while those differences were once attractive, they now irk us when we are always the ones to change the toilet paper rolls.
While men’s locker room conversations supposedly are dominated by tales of imaginary conquests, women’s conversations are quite different. We don’t brag. We complain. He doesn’t know what a mop is for. He can’t dress the kids in clothes that match if his life depended on it. He ate all the granola bars I bought for the kids’ lunches, so they had no snacks today. He throws his dirty underwear everywhere except in the laundry hamper.
Much of this complaining stems from honest frustration. Women still do the bulk of the work around the house, although that is slowly changing, and many feel very taken for granted. That’s a lonely place to be in a marriage. But sometimes we make ourselves even lonelier by failing to recognize what men do contribute. We notice what we do around the house, but not what they do in the yard, with the car, or even with the insurance agents.
This Valentine’s Day, I think what my husband would most like is that I start thinking like a man. Certainly valuing affection would be a big part of that, but not the whole thing. It would also involve valuing what he uniquely does. So thanking him—creatively, of course—for his contribution to our family would be a good start.
And what am I grateful for? He’s there to listen when I’ve had a hard day. He can get the kids in line far faster than I can because his voice is a lot firmer than mine ever could be. He’s big enough to wrap his arms around me. He warms up my feet. He’s someone I can count on to stand up for me when a technician on the phone asks me for the fourth time if I have tried unplugging my computer, or when the store won’t take back the defective ice cream maker, or when the repair shop asks for too much money. He always tells me I’m beautiful, and he doesn’t notice that extra ten pounds I’ve gained in the last two years. He works really hard, and keeps our bank account in the black.
Valentine’s Day is not all about me, and this year, I think my husband would like to know not just that I love him, but why I love him. That’s not too much to ask, is it?