When I turned 30, I had only been married for two and half months – a newlywed by all definitions. As a single woman I had always imagined that the elegant dinners and adventures that I often planned to celebrate my birthday would be taken over by my husband as he moves heaven and earth to surprise me for every birthday, holiday and anniversary.
Where my expectations high?
To quote a recently discovered wise sage, “Is an elephant heavy?”
My expectations for my husband were THROUGH THE ROOF! Reasonable or not, I expected to be showered with flowers and balloons and gifts and to be whisked off for an island getaway somewhere. After all, this was my 30th birthday! My biggest milestone yet!
Imagine my response when my birthday fell on a Sunday and we went to church like it was any other Sunday. There was no card; there was no gift. After church, I was still holding out hope that my surprise was lurking somewhere so I carefully suggested an afternoon lunch to celebrate. My hubby agreed and we went to an Italian restaurant close to our home. Lunch was okay even though I started feeling ill right after (early pregnancy). The disappointment of the day weighed on me. I am sure I made more than one smart remark about the lack of celebration of my special day.
The discontentment I felt about that particular birthday was hard to shake. Eventually, I had to take it to the Lord in prayer; after pouring my heart out before the Lord, I thought I was over it. As we got closer to our first Christmas as a married couple and my husband’s first birthday as a married man, the Lord had to sit me down and explain a few things. I learned that my expectations of my husband to be the one always DOING in order to please me where not only unrealistic and misplaced, they were selfish and un-Christ-like. Marriage was not about me getting this gift or that or about having someone to make up for all of my single and alone years by going over the top for me. Marriage was about loving and honoring my spouse in obedience to God so that Christ may be glorified. From then on I made it my mission to out serve my husband in love. Whether or not he had made a big “to do” about my birthday, I was going all out for his because I loved him and I appreciated all he had done to take care of me and our unborn child. I decorated the house while he was away at work; then I popped up at his job at midnight on his birthday with dessert, homemade food and balloons. Lastly, I planned a surprise dinner with our friends for the following evening. Spending the weekend catering to my husband and lavishing him with love absolutely filled my heart with joy. Watching him beam and blush in laughter with each revelation and surprise was all my heart needed that weekend.
I learned a valuable lesson that day. The joy I felt in serving my husband and ensuring he knew how much he was loved and appreciated could not be duplicated – not even if I had been the one on the receiving end of all of the attention. In blessing my husband sincerely and unconditionally, I received a blessing from the Lord in the form of heavenly joy in my heart and God’s peace in my home.
That experience has set the pace for our future celebrations. Regardless of what my husband is able to do to celebrate me, even if it is nothing at all, I will take any and every opportunity to let him know he is loved.
With each passing year, my husband continues to grow in this area. He is coming from a background that never celebrated any birthdays or holidays as a child so the transition for him is a big one. But every year, he goes out of his way to buy me a card or balloons or flowers or a thoughtful gift for any special occasion and the gesture always moves me to tears. I am the one that is used to doing things extravagantly. He is not. So any effort he makes, motivated by his love for me, speaks volumes to me.
And the years when work, financial responsibilities and his schedule do not allow for him to do anything, I am reminded of how well he loves and provides for me the other 364 days of the year and by God’s grace, I am still able to shower him with affection and relish the privilege to spend another holiday in the arms of the man I love.
Being a proud member of “Team-Doing-Too-Much” I bought my husband’s Valentine’s Day cards a week in advance. Since I could not decide between cards, I ended up with five cards for my one hubby (LOL). Each card held a special message that spoke to our relationship as best friends, as lovers, as partners, and as companions.
My husband stepped his game ALL the way up this year and showered me with gift after gift. For a heart that was already content to receive nothing material, this was the icing on top of the most decadent cake. I appreciate my husband for his efforts to love me well this Valentine’s Day. It is perfectly in line with how well he has loved me for the past three years and nine months of marriage.
Taking each holiday and regular day as a married woman as an opportunity to lavish my husband with love has changed my marriage and it has changed my character. I am less selfish and less self-absorbed. I am no longer a spoiled brat who expects my husband to move heaven and earth for my happiness. I find myself more grateful for the simple things in life. I am better able to see the big and small ways that my husbands proves his love for me in our daily lives. I am more confident in my husband’s love for me, gift or no gift.
For anyone who had a disappointing Valentine’s Day whether because you are single and felt left out or maybe because you are married and felt forgotten, please be encouraged. Yesterday does not prove or disprove that you are loved or valued. It is just another day and it is what you make it. If you are single, find someone to lavish with your love. Whether it is a parent, a sibling or a cherished friend. Do something extravagant (or simple) for someone because you love them and with absolutely no expectation that they will return the favor – that is the true essence of giving; anything else is an exchange.
If you are married and your spouse disappointed you by not going all out or even acknowledging the day, I know you are hurt and I am so sorry. Maybe like me, you need to adjust your expectations. If that is the case, I pray that God shows you ways that you can lavish unconditional love on your spouse. Celebrate them even if they cannot or will not celebrate you. If you are anything like me, I can guarantee that in giving, you will find inexplicable joy that can only come from the Lord.
Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours!
Yours in Christ,