I’ve been informed by our youngest son that I am a lousy spouse. My husband is a lousy spouse, too.

You see, we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, and we don’t do Sweetest Day, either. When people found out that we had chosen October 16 for a wedding date, they all said “aww”. The two of us laughed because we didn’t even know what in the world a Sweetest Day was! We just liked mid-October because the beautiful fall colors in Wisconsin are usually at their peak at about that time of year.

In the early years of our marriage, we made an attempt to celebrate these days, but eventually we just gave up because our hearts just weren’t in it. We tried the candy and flowers thing, but for us it felt… forced. I tried dressing up and making a fancy candlelight dinner, but it just made me feel silly. Now, we don’t even bother. Pathetic, you say?

Well, not really. We do all these things for each other, and more. But we do them when and because we want to, not when and because a greeting card company tells us we have to. We didn’t like the expectations these holidays placed on us. I didn’t want to be waiting around, tapping my toes, and wondering what Mark was going to bring me for Valentine’s Day. Mark works long, hard hours, and I refuse to put even more on his shoulders. I know he feels the same about me. Mark didn’t want to be giving me the hassle of worrying about a special dinner in the midst of caring for the house, the children and meeting writing deadlines. Neither of us like shopping, and so that was that.

Even more, though, it was the principle behind it. For us, it seems to put a damper on our enthusiasm when we know that we’re expected to do something because everyone else is doing it. When we express our love to each other, we want it to be because the love has welled up in our hearts to the point that we simply have to share it. We want our love to be free and spontaneous.

Call us lousy spouses, party-poopers, fuddy-duddies, or sticks in the mud – you can even call us Valentine grinches. Whatever you do, however, don’t call us apathetic. That can’t be farther from the truth!

I have to say that, of all the men I know, I think that Mark is the most thoughtful and kind. He often surprises me with beautiful flowers, chocolate, and interesting book, or a nice bottle of wine. I often make the dinner table fancy and come up with something he really likes for dinner or brew a nice cup of hot tea for him in the evening to help him relax before bed. We do little acts of kindness for one another constantly. There’s nothing we love more than to spend time together, even if it’s something as basic as grocery shopping. No, my friends, our love isn’t slipping away. On the contrary, our love continues to deepen with every passing moment. We can’t imagine life without the other, and we hate being separated for any length of time. We both truly enjoy doing special favors for each other; we just want to do it when we want to do it, not when somebody else wants us to.

Don’t take this as criticism of those of you who do celebrate Valentine’s Day and Sweetest Day. if you do, and you do it out of genuine enthusiasm and not obligation, then all power to you. I sincerely think that’s a great thing. I know that some people need that calendar reminder demonstrate their love because life can get so crazy at times that we simply forget even though we deeply about the other person.

This Valentine’s Day, our children will again be terribly disappointed in us because Mark and I don’t have any big plans – at least not apparently. On the outside, we’ll look like Valentine grinches. On the inside, we’ll know… we’ll know… And that’s something no greeting card company can replicate.

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