One of the highlights of my day is always picking up Jack from daycare, because I know he will come running to me with a big smile on his face.
Then, he’ll cuddle up close to me like a koala bear as I hold him and collect his things before taking him out to the car.
With Jack, moments of cuddling like that are rare. It’s safe to proclaim, he’s just not a cuddly kind of kid.
I want to say that I wish he was. But that would be me being selfish.
Because he was designed to be an adventurer and an explorer, so it’s not in his nature to want to let me squeeze him like the Snuggles bear whenever I feel like it; which is actually quite often.
Jack wants to be led into swashbuckling missions. He wants to see the unknown. He wants to ride in the bottom storage part of the shopping cart at Whole Foods Market.
I have to let Jack be Jack, even if that means that at least for right now, I can’t just lay on the couch with him, being close and cuddly. Because that’s what I want.
So I accept that his love language is probably not physical touch.
Instead, I think Jack interprets love through quality time and acts of service.
That typically involves me exerting a lot of energy and burning a bunch of calories and not having much time to just chill out when I’m with him.
It’s not so much that I’m constantly having to entertain him; it’s that I’m constantly needing to engage him. Interestingly, the activities that best express my love to him in a way that he accepts as valid are the ones that most wear him out and cause him to need to take a nap.
I believe that most men are wired to appreciate and use formulas to get the job done. That’s definitely the case for me. I just want someone to spell it out for me so I always know what to do the next time I’m in that situation again. I hate having to guess.
Therefore, I will attempt to share my formula for writing a thoughtful and sincere Valentine’s Day card for your wife and the mother of your children.
This year, instead of rushing by the drug store the day before and scribbling in the card “I love you” while sitting at the red light, you can be prepared ahead of time.
You can even have her card purchased and filled out a week ahead of time. Nice plan, huh? Let’s do it.
1. Make it quirky. No matter how serious or funny the card itself is supposed to be, I always like to personalize the card. Like if on the front there are two cartoon cats who are in love, I write in “you” and “me” with arrows pointing to the appropriate characters.
No matter what the writing inside the card says when you buy it, you can always add to it, inserting a line with a specific example of something she did or said that was special and memorable.
2. Use the phrase “in love with you.” It’s a given that you will tell her in the card that you love her. But by proclaiming that you are in love with her, it resurfaces those feelings and memories of when you first fell in love with her and it shows her that you never stopped falling in love with her.
Just be sure you don’t say, “I’m still in love with you.” The word “still” makes the whole thing go south pretty quickly.
3. Use her name at least once. It’s so easy to get in the habit of calling her pet names or even simply nothing at all that you end up not calling her by her name. But there’s a lot of power in saying and/or writing a person’s name. So say her name, say her name.
4. Mention your appreciation of her motherly skills. We all know that parenting is a thankless job. So thank her for how good she is at it. And if your kid is too young to talk yet like mine is, add a little note from your child- pretending to speak for them.
Okay, the card is purchased and written. Now figure out where to display it on that fateful Tuesday morning. Maybe on the bathroom sink? Let it be one of the first things she notices, to help start Valentine’s Day out the right way.
One more thing, save this article in your “Favorites.” You may need to use this card-writing formula in the near future: her birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Arbor Day…
Alright guys, you don’t need my help here. You knew what it took to get her to fall for you in the first place. I’m assuming you’ve already begun brainstorming on how to make this Valentine’s Day special for the love of your life and the mother of your child.
So today I’m just here to offer up a few more decent ideas to throw into the mix, or remind you about, as V-Day approaches us. Here’s what I say about making Valentine’s Day special for her:
Keep it simple, thoughtful, and unique.
1. Buy a miniature cake from the grocery store for the two of you to share. They cost around 8 bucks and are essentially the equivalent of buying two of those trendy $4 cupcakes; which wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Chances are, she will be charmed by your “fun” and “cute” idea of throwing together Valentine’s dessert.
2. Pick up a special drink and serve it in champagne or wine glasses. Whether it’s your wifey’s favorite wine, cider, gourmet beer, or even just sparkling grape juice. The idea is to bring a touch of fanciness and class; yet so simply.
3. Personalize her Valentine’s Day card. I just did a more detailed article on this alone, but for now, what matters is that you write more than “I love you” on a 99 cent card. This is a great opportunity to reaffirm how you feel about her with words that will potentially stick around longer than the words spoken every other day. Seeing something written in black and white really has staying power.
4. Get her a sugary treat for later. It doesn’t have to be a box of chocolates. Maybe she prefers Twizzlers or Jelly Bellies. This aspect is like the stocking stuffer of Valentine’s Day. Plus, it’s just nice to have something leftover for the next day she can enjoy while she’s at work.
5. Oh yeah, the flowers. Honestly, I never spend a lot on these. The important thing is that you have them to display in a vase on the counter or table. Flowers are important because they last about two weeks longer than Valentine’s Day itself.
Notice how none of my ideas involve spending a lot of money or require too much effort.
Simple, thoughtful, and unique. That’s the man plan for Valentine’s Day.
Not to mention, by default, you’re teaching your son how to be romantic and/or your daughter what she should expect from a guy you would approve of someday.
I can think of three universally recognizable examples of unconditional love: God and man, parent and child, and dog and owner. But what about whom you marry? Is that unconditional love?
Isn’t that sort of the whole concept of marrying someone? To choose to unconditionally love a person you wouldn’t otherwise love to the point of “no matter what?” To me, that’s the most romantic thing a person can do. Even stripped of emotion and sentimentality, marriage is/should be mutual unconditional love at its finest.
And maybe that’s one of the reasons that marriage isn’t as easy as a lot of people may assume going into it. Instead, marriage is an ongoing process of mutual maturity. Marriage causes people to see how hard it can be to live with even themselves, from the perspective of someone who happens to love them unconditionally.
To love someone unconditionally means there is nothing that that person can do to cause them to fall out of ultimate favor with you. Sure, some days it’s easier than others, but that falls under the whole “for better or for worse” part of the wedding vows.
Actually, for a human being (outside of the parent/child relationship) to love another unconditionally is one of the biggest paradoxes I can think of. But it helps to put things in perspective by turning the tables: I, myself, want to be unconditionally loved.
I want to know there is a person who doesn’t judge me when I’m not in the room, but at the same time is brave enough to tell me directly and privately how I can improve as a person, in both big and small ways. I want to know there is a person who understands me, or at least puts up with me, when I’m being weird or simply not myself.
So maybe choosing to love another person is challenging, but for me, the bigger challenge was finding someone who would love me unconditionally. Thank God, that’s exactly who I found.
If we were restricted to only see the world in terms of science, where would love fit into that picture? I guess it could be said that love, along with all other human emotions, is ultimately necessary for not only procreation but also the desired human interactions that help move us forward as a society. Carpenter ants and sea horses do not need to feel anything emotionally in order to survive and multiply, but we humans, being much more complicated, are not devoid of personalities or the need to feel needed by others. We need love.
So somewhere in the evolution from fish to ape to man, love randomly showed up in the genes and proved to be fit for survival? It sounds pretty miraculous to me…
That’s why, along with the Jewish actor/political commentator Ben Stein (The Wonder Years and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and the Christian actor/evangelist Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains), I am a devout advocate of Intelligent design.
In other words, I reject the popular and politically correct theory of evolution and/or The Big Bang Theory. Instead, I believe that man was literally created by God, from dust, as it is explained in the book of Genesis- in six literal 24 hour days.
What about dinosaurs, though? After all, men could not have survived alongside vicious, giant lizards.
Interestingly, The Book of Genesis explains that in the beginning, God gave the herbs and plants for the people to eat. It wasn’t until ten extremely long generations later (people lived centuries long back then) when Noah and his family exited the ark that God told mankind A) that animals would begin fearing man and therefore, B) that people should now starting eating animals as part of their diet.
Therefore, I believe for ten long generations, people and animals of all kinds coexisted, all living on a vegetarian diet. Radically, I believe the world is around 10,000 years old; not millions or billions. That’s just the Cliff Notes version of Intelligent design. Feel free to read another blog post I’ve written on it; or google “Intelligent design” to learn just how “out there” I really am.
Simply put, I believe that love is just simply too miraculous to have randomly showed up on its own. I believe that love did not evolve, but instead was created and given as a gift from God to man; so that man would share it. For me, thinking about love from a scientific perspective only points me to one simple idea: love is part of God’s intelligent design.
The love I share for my wife and son comes from God; not chance.
It has never been more appropriate than right now for me to give away a free copy of the brand-new, just released, children’s book, Smack Dab in the Middle of God’s Love.
The book seems to encompass the artistic sophistication of a classic Caldecott Medal winning book along with the multi-ethnic oneness of Sesame Street. It’s a nostalgic return to the good children’s books I read as a child growing up in the Eighties, but with a modern accent. I believe this book would especially be ideal for parents who have not yet raised their children in a particular religious household, but who are now more interested in doing so; the book would serve as a great transition into teaching them about God’s love.
Now, as to the one lucky winner who will be mailed a copy of this book, just be the first person to leave a comment on this post telling me how many weeks old my son Jack was when we gave him his first haircut. Make sure you send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name and mailing address so I’ll know where to mail it.
Need a hint? Use the search box on the right side of this screen.
Excerpt from the back cover of Smack Dab in the Middle of God’s Love:
“Willie Juan and Ana’s home is always full of neighborhood children, laughter, and love. One day, while enjoying Ana’s most delicious sopapillas, Willie Juan asks a most curious question:
‘Little friends, what is one thing you think Abba will ask you someday when you are in heaven?’.
Through their answers, Willie Juan’s guidance, and a few giggles, the children learn that God cares about the details of their lives and that all good gifts- from hummingbirds to homemade sopapillas- come from Him.
This book will help kids discover how deep and wide and endless is the love of God. A love so BIG that no matter what, they will always be smack dab in the middle of it.”