June 3, 2023
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I am writing this column on Valentine’s Day.

If you know me, you’ll know that few husbands in the history of the celebration of Valentine’s Day are more accomplished, more innovative, more dependably and incredibly devoted to making memories on Valentine’s Day than am I.

And, if you know me, you are now laughing out loud.

I admit it: I have a dicey relationship with Valentine’s Day, and my wife deserves much better in this regard than I am good at giving. The good news is that, though she seems to appreciate my poor attempts with really great cards, gifts, dinners, special events and surprises (maybe I blunder into such success once a decade?), she knows that I know that I am of all men most blessed. She also knows that I know she’d usually rather have cash than flowers, and that’s the truth.

Still, gents, no matter how practically-minded your wives may be, it is a real mistake not to at least make a serious effort with cards, flowers, etc., on special and, from time to time, not-so-special occasions. Even the gals who claim not to care much at all about glitz care more than they think, and they desire and deserve more than you are naturally turned to give. Trust me. I tend to be a romance-challenged clod, but I am a clod who’s been married for 46 years.

I think my all-time low may have come on a work trip with my wife. She was waiting in the car while I ran into a drug store to pick up a couple of items. Realizing that we were a day or two away from a card-requiring holiday, I was shuffling through the greeting card bin when, wondering what was taking me so long, my beloved walked up behind me. In a moment of weakness, I suggested that since the checkout line was long, she might just read the card, consider it my heartfelt sentiment (it was), place it back in the rack, and we could head on down the road. Triple play. Great card. Free card. Feelings sincerely expressed.

This year, I was early in my Valentine’s Day card-shopping—meaning that it was not the “day before” or the “morning of.” The cards were not completely picked over, so I assumed the remaining were more or less representative of the card company’s offerings.

Those cards were not offered cheaply. Even a very average attempt at a card would set you back about seven bucks.

It also became apparent that writing sentimental card-fodder for a day celebrating deep love and devoted commitment is harder in a time where love is “luuuuvvvv” and the general “pool” of commitment is pretty darn shallow.

A dear friend who is a teacher—and truly committed wife and mother of one of my favorite families—was asked by a high school student how long she and her husband had “been together.” My friend replied, “We’ve been married for fourteen years.” The look of utter amazement in the student’s wide eyes told the story of the appalling price our society has paid for cut-rate “love” with no commitment.

So did that card bin. Among cards of the sort I expected to find were some “let’s cover all the bases” cards.

One or a few led out by saying, “You make me feel so [pick any term for warm and fluffy].” I like “warm and fluffy.” But I do wonder if something might be more foundational in a relationship than how “you make ME feel”? Maybe I’m pickily pushing the card too far.

Another card stoked my cynicism more seriously, proclaiming, “We are so good together!” It kinda seemed to me to beg the question, “What happens the moment I decide that we’re not?” I found myself wondering if the couple in mind had been together three days, three months, or a mind-boggling three years?

George MacDonald was not disparaging love—even of the most romantic sort—when he wrote, “It is better to be trusted than to be loved.” Think about it. In most of our day-to-day human relationships, that is true.

And if we want a romantic relationship that lasts, why would we willingly settle for less than someone we can trust completely and who will deeply cherish the gift of our fully-committed love? Our Father wants for us a love that will bless not just us but our kids and, yes, generations (and our whole society).

What sweet irony that the feelings that come from such a love are far deeper and more truly joyful than “hooked on a feeling” warm fuzzies that come and go and flitter and flee depending upon whether or not we’re “good together.”

It’s also a little ironic that this evening I’m singing at a Valentine’s banquet. But, hey, when I croon, “The Very Thought of You,” I know the “you” I have in mind. And I thank God for her.

Curtis K. Shelburne

Muleshoe Journal Correspondent


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