No Valentine’s Day? Yep, No Valentine’s Day

Anyone can get flowers, cards or candy for a few days when everyone is expecting it. But, if you get the flowers, cards, candy or make a meal that she loves without asking, it means exponentially more because it comes from the heart rather than from the world.

Valentine’s Day

Faith’s Thoughts:

Terry has been extremely romantic from the beginning of our relationship. I explained in a previous post that I had never been loved on in that way. I didn’t think I liked it. Before being a recipient, I thought flowers were a waste a money since they die. After a few bouquets, however, I loved them! I loved to have a bouquet at my desk at work which reminded me every time I saw them I was loved. When people would comment about them, it made me think of Terry who went out of his way to make me feel special. Once it got close to Valentine’s day, Terry explained to me that he doesn’t “celebrate” Valentines because he expresses his love every day. I wasn’t too disappointed though because I hadn’t celebrated that holiday since I was a kid in elementary school passing out valentines to my classmates. I didn’t hate it though like many single people. Valentine’s Day didn’t remind me more than any other day that I was single. Every morning that I woke up, got the kids up and ready for school (by myself), came home to cook dinner, help with homework, and do all the other tasks which were required of me. I was reminded of my singleness. Surely at the beginning of the month when it was up to me to pay all the bills, I was rudely reminded that I was (very) single. Sadly, I didn’t have an expectation of romance in a relationship. I hoped for partnership and the lack of partnership was the greatest reminder of my singleness, not the lack of romance. So, having Terry demonstrate partnership and romance was more than I could ever ask or think.

Terry isn’t a pessimistic person, but regarding Valentine’s Day, I’d describe his attitude as cynical. Terry explained that he didn’t participate in Valentine’s Day because he doesn’t need a date on a calendar to show love since he shows it all year. He also doesn’t appreciate how things are so overpriced for Valentine’s Day and restaurants are crowded. Some people would say “Would you rather celebrate love one day of the year or every other day?” I think that’s a copout. I don’t understand why the choice has a be so drastic. Some men (especially my husband) LOVE the game of football. He’s a fan from the NFL draft to training camp, preseason football, regular season games, the playoffs, and then there’s the Super Bowl. We don’t have to choose between the regular season and the Super Bowl. We watch them both and during the Super Bowl, we celebrate! We go all out like we haven’t been watching for months. Personally, I think those who are romantic should be looking forward to Valentine’s Day all year. Not because it’s the only day to celebrate, but because they get to really go all out.

I’m new to romance and relationships. I like it more than I thought I would. I look forward to Terry’s sweet gestures, so I don’t want any day to be off limits. Ultimately though, my “love tank” is full. He keeps it full, but I’m not opposed to having the tank topped off. If I must choose between being showered with love 1 day or 364 days, certainly, I’d choose 364 days. But, just as there shouldn’t be a day to dictate when we celebrate love, there shouldn’t be a day when we withhold it either. I don’t need a card, not even flowers, Lord knows I have no desire to wait in line a fancy restraint, but I think Valentine’s Day could be made special without giving into the commercialization of it all.

– Faith

No Valentine’s Day? Yep, No Valentine’s Day

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

I remember the first time that I told Faith that I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. The look on her face was a combination of shock, disbelief and wonder. She said “Okay…”, but the tone in her voice was like “What do you mean ‘You don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day?’” All the things that I had done for her in the months leading up to Valentine’s Day had her overwhelmed with tokens of love and lots and lots of flowers. Of all the days to give flowers, why not give them on Valentine’s Day? The explanation was simple and yet profound: why wait until two or three days (four if you are married) a year to show someone how much you love them?

One of the things that I learned early on in life was that time is short and fleeting and no one knows when it is time to meet the Master. The event that made me take this stand was the death of my father. He was scheduled to come home from the hospital on a Sunday and had a massive heart attack on the Friday before his discharge date. I was so looking forward to spending time with him again as unlike now where children have more liberty to visit their parents in the hospital, at that time, it was very restrictive in both times of day and the amount of time that could be spent. There were so many things that I wanted to say to him and ask him about when he got home, and I never got the opportunity to say them. I never got the opportunity to tell him that I missed him and loved him. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, he was gone. I vowed I would never have that feeling of not letting someone I loved to know how much I loved them and would not wait until a few days of the year to express it.

To this end, I explained to Faith that I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. I celebrate my love for her each and every day. Why wait when I can show her that I care for her, I adore her and I love her for who she is? Anyone can get flowers, cards or candy for a few days when everyone is expecting it. But, if you get the flowers, cards, candy or make a meal that she loves without asking, it means exponentially more because it comes from the heart rather than from the world. To have the love of your life look with amazement and adoration (as well as her co-workers) when something shows up when she least expects it is priceless. I enjoy letting people know that I love my wife, but I love even more when I do something that shows the world that she is my queen and she shows it in her smile.

One of the things that I enjoy is her smile. I don’t smile a lot, but Faith smiles enough for the two of us. I don’t ever want that smile to go away, so I do what I need to do to make sure that it remains on her face. From little things such as picking up a new lunch bag so that she can stay on track with her program to making sure there is gas in the tank when she runs it down, these are just some things that I do to make sure that she keeps a smile on her face. As the Rude Boys sang “It’s written all over your face, you don’t have to say a word” I want that smile to always say “Terry loves me.” Thus, this is the reason I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. Every day is Valentine’s Day for the one that I love.

– Terry

Post script: So, many have asked “Did you do anything special for Valentine’s Day this year?” Well, the answer is yes and no. Let me explain: the plan (as always) is to do what I am going to do before the day arrives. Well, thanks to delays in delivery, what I ordered didn’t arrive until Valentine’s Day. So, in essence I didn’t and I did do something special for Valentine’s Day. But for me, every day is a day to celebrate my love for my queen.

-Terry

The Language of Love? Really?

This was a watershed moment in our relationship. We were learning how the other person “speaks” to express their love and how to listen with not only our ears, but with our hearts.

Love Languages

Faith’s Thoughts:

I was introduced to the book “5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman over 10 years ago. It was presented to our single moms group and I found it so intriguing. I learned as a mom how to identify my children’s love languages (and mine) so that I could love them in the manner which they received love. It was very enlightening for me as a mom. It was also an effective parenting tactic. I wish I had revisited the book when my children became teenagers because I seemed to lose all types of “mommy cool points” when the kids reached teen years (or maybe love languages don’t apply to teens 😊). (Side note: I think I need to write Gary Chapman and give him another book idea: “5 Love Languages for Those Who Are Hard to Get Along With.”)  He has several versions focused on various groups (e.g. teens, singles, children, etc.)

I suggested to Terry that we read 5 Love Languages for Couples. I was a little intimidated suggesting a book to him because he has a very extensive library.  Terry reads a lot and he retains it all!  It’s one of the things I find fascinating about him.  He is a walking encyclopedia. Sometimes I just ask him random things that I don’t even care about just because I know he’ll either know the answer or find the answer. Although I love his big ol’ brain, introducing a new idea to him was scary for me.  I thought he would reject it and miss this opportunity to explore this book with me. I was very surprised when he said he hadn’t heard of it. Alas, I knew something Terry didn’t know 😊. Truly, I only knew the title.  I remembered the concept of the book, but I didn’t remember the details and surly I didn’t understand the content in the context of a couple’s relationship. Terry (of course) did some research about it and agreed to read it with me. I don’t know if he was just trying to appease me, but I was thankful either way.

We delved right into the books when they arrived. We assigned ourselves chapters to read and discussed them every night.  I have never had a guy agree to read a book with me, EVER!  Terry gained so many cool points when he said yes, but the way he faithfully read the chapters and shared in the discussion was absolutely beautiful! Most of the time he finished his reading before me.

Dr. Chapman introduced the concept that people naturally give and receive love in innate ways which are described as “Love Languages”. I won’t delve too deeply into the details because the book does that beautifully and I highly recommend that everyone read the book. By the end, I realized so many implications this concept has. Not just with my relationship with Terry, but my relationships with my parents, siblings, friends, and peers.  I revisited the information I had previously applied to my relationship with my children and refocused on loving them in their own (love) language.  As the title of the book suggests, there are 5 (love) languages and different “dialects” of how they are shown or received.  The languages are: Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts and Words of Affirmation.

I didn’t know what Terry’s love language was. I had a suspicion but I was wrong. Terry is a gift giver. He would send me flowers, chocolate, teddy bears, whatever (just because). I assumed that because Terry was big on giving gifts, that “gifts” was his love language. I was unaccustomed to receiving gifts.  I literally had a relationship where I would get dumped about a week before Christmas, so the guy wouldn’t have to buy me gifts for the holidays. Since my birthday is right around the corner from Christmas, the “breakup” would continue into the new year.  Then, there was Valentine’s Day, so you know what that meant…yup, a stupid argument to ensure he didn’t have to buy a gift in February.  Then he’d want to make up sometime around February 15th.  That went on for years before I figured out the pattern.  Absolute foolishness! Now back to Terry. I thought for sure giving and receiving gifts was his love language. But turns out, it’s not.

We learned in the book that sometimes behaviors can be learned through experiences. For instance, someone may be a good listener, because of training or profession. Quality conversations is a dialect of Quality Time.  Just because someone practices active listening, doesn’t mean that’s their love language.  There is a quiz at the end of the book which helps you identify your own love language, but more importantly, it helps you identify your partner’s love language. Couples are encouraged to know each other’s love language and commit to love their partner the way that they receive. It’s being intentional about love.

When I was a very young woman, I had a revelation about the state of relationships in my generation (at least in my surroundings).  In my view, I saw that everyone was looking at what they could get out of the relationship versus what they could add to the other person’s life.  They based their “love” on what the other person could do for them.  That formula worked until the other person could no longer deliver what was expected.  Once that happened, it felt as if they had “fallen out of love”.  This concept of loving intentionally is about love being more about what you can add to the other person vs what they can give.  When both parties are committed to doing that, it’s the most romantic language there is!  My prayer is that I always stay committed to loving Terry the way he needs to be loved.

– Faith

The Language of Love?  Really?

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

One night while Faith and I were talking on the phone, she suggested that we read a book together.  I thought that is would be a good idea to help us get a better understanding of how we thought about a subject and help both of us learn more about the other.  So, I asked her what did she want to read or was it just something that she thought about.  As always, Faith had something in mind: ‘The 5 Love Languages for Couples’ by Gary Chapman.  I had never heard of it, but she had read the version for parents to learn their children’s love language. (Side note: There are several versions on the subject and all are centered around learning a person’s love language.  The primary book is ‘The 5 Love Languages’ and I highly recommend it.)  As she explained to me the principles of the book, I thought that it would be very interesting to see what the author said about the subject and where each of us landed.  So, the next day I ordered our copies of the book and awaited their arrival.

When they arrived, I gave Faith her copy and we decided to read a chapter each day and talk about the chapter we read that evening/night.  Faith kept saying to me before we read it together, “I know what your love language is, and the book is going to confirm it.”  Well, even though I hadn’t read the book, I knew I wouldn’t be pigeonholed by any category.  Never have and probably never will, but I told her “We’ll see if you are right or not.  But I’m not what you think.  I know me.”  She was certain that from her previous exposure to the teachings that she new what my language was/is.  Boy, was she in for a surprise!

As we continued to read each chapter and discuss what it entailed, we began to learn more about ourselves and well as each other.  Some of the things that I thought she ‘spoke’ through her love language was not what it appeared to be, while things that she thought I ‘spoke’ ended up being totally contrary to what she believed about me.  None of these things were negative, but they opened our eyes that we are more complex beings and have many layers.  In the words of Shrek, we were like onions: we have layers.  And like onions, sometimes if a layer is cut, it can make you cry.  During the 2 weeks that we were reading this book and our follow up discussions on the chapters, we would discuss our thoughts and feelings towards the subject and would relate our personal experiences to the chapter’s subject matter.  This was a watershed moment in our relationship.  We were learning how the other person “speaks” to express their love and how to listen with not only our ears, but with our hearts.

At the end of the book, there was a test that helps couples learn their love language and gives them an opportunity to discuss their findings and evaluate what their opinions at the beginning versus the end of the book.  In the end, we both learned about how the other expresses their love and receives love.  Knowing how a person receives love and how they “speak” it can help people communicate effectively and efficiently to each other.  There is no sense in speaking French when the other is speaking Italian and expect everyone to be on the same page.  The same with love languages.  By knowing how Faith receives expressions of love, I know what and how to “speak” to make sure that she knows that I love her and vice versa.  By taking a little time to learn your partner’s language of love, you may be surprised how much deeper your relationship will grow towards one another.  I know I did.

-Terry

Divorce is like death, but death is not like divorce

The divorce class teacher told me that divorce is like death. It’s the death of a relationship and dreams. She said I needed to give myself time to grieve.

Faith’s Thoughts…

In Florida, when you apply to dissolve a marriage where minor children are involved, they require that you take a parenting course (at least they did in 2000 when I became divorced.) I found it very helpful.  I didn’t have any idea of what I was doing. I was walking around pretty disconnected. I had just started a new job. That’s not the most opportune time to start going through extreme family drama. I was within my probationary period and I remember going to work every day crying my entire shift. They didn’t keep me and I totally understand. I was supposed to be offering customer service, but I was crying on the phone. That’s not good. The divorce class teacher told me that divorce is like death. It’s the death of a relationship and dreams. She said I needed to give myself time to grieve. I probably didn’t need 17 years to grieve. I’m sure I didn’t. It didn’t take 17 years, but it did take me time to not want to punch people. It took me a while to embrace my new norm and not be upset about what that meant for my children.  Divorce is a death to relationship; however, death is not like divorce.

People who cared about me were concerned when they learned about Terry and me. They were not sure that Terry was ready to pursue a new relationship so soon after losing his wife. Some people who cared about me were not ready for me to fall in love. Being single meant I was always available. I was the one to text late at night with a situation, who would answer in the middle of the night and pray. Some people felt that dating so soon was distasteful and disrespectful to Terry’s late wife Mia. “It’s too soon”. Terry and I heard that quite a bit. We were falling in love and enjoying that excitement that new love brings, but that sentiment wasn’t initially shared. Not with everyone. There were some key figures who were very supportive; without them, there may not have been this “2nd time around for love blog”. I didn’t want to hurt or offend anyone.  I considered walking away from this wonderful man because of the disapproval of a few. We prayed a lot. I cried a lot. I thought too much. Terry and I talked a lot. We had long deep conversations. It wasn’t just his words however; I observed a lot. I observed a man who was stable, a man who was honest. A man who was genuine and willing to be vulnerable. I observed how he cared for Ms. Liz, Mia’s mom. I observed how she trusted him like a son and welcomed me without reservation. Finally, I had observed enough. Terry’s character spoke louder than anyone else’s thought that “it was too soon”. I knew that I was loved by him. I Corinthians 13 (NIV) says:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

A wise woman told me that I could measure a man’s love for me by comparing his actions to those 3 verses in I Corinthians 13. I knew was loved which made me feel safe.  I realized that I loved Terry when I became more concerned with Terry’s feelings than those of people who thought our relationship was ill timed. I still cared very much about how others felt (probably too much.) I felt a sense a guilt for finding love with Terry. I even carried it down the aisle. I had to grow up in that period. I had to learn that even with the purest intentions, one can be misunderstood. I learned that some people who mourn with you won’t necessarily celebrate with you. And that’s okay.

I prayed a lot for my husband in my period of singleness. I prayed some specific characteristics. The more I learned about Mr. Bryant, the more I recognized him as the man of my prayers. The more I realized who he was, I became astonished that I was actually experiencing the manifestation of years of prayer. People say I’m glowing since I started dating him. I think I look the same, but I also think people see a woman who is amazed that 17 years of prayer could be answered in an instant. I would have never picked Terry for myself. I’m not that astute. Every day, however, I realize why God picked him for me. I said this in my vows: He’s nothing that I expected, but all I had hoped for. Such a beautiful surprise!

–  Faith

Too Fast? Too Soon? Nah…

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

Before contemplating dating anyone, my mother-in-law had given me some very sound advice: 1) You are a single man.  You fulfilled your vows, so you are free to be with whomever God has sent to you; 2) Don’t look for another Mia.  You won’t find another like her and don’t compare her to anyone else. He (God) will send you someone that is perfect for you where you are in life.  At that moment, many thoughts and apprehensions had fallen away in an instant.  Although Faith wasn’t in the picture at that time, I knew what I had prayed and what I hoped to find.  I just had to wait, watch and listen. Shortly after we started getting to know each other, I knew that Faith was the one that God had hidden in the bush for me.

Many people who I had respect for said “Don’t do anything for a year.  You don’t want to make any decisions until a year has passed.”  Well, those that know me, know that I am a biblical scholar and wanted to see if the saying was a biblical principal or religious tradition.  I went searching and could not find a biblical precedent on the length of mourning.  The only thing that I found was the length of time that Israel mourned for Moses (30 days).  So, with that traditional hurdle past me and knowing that God does things in His own time, I had no fear knowing that He may have someone out there for me.

During this period, I had two close friends call me within a few days to tell me that I would be blessed for being faithful to Mia and honoring my vows until her death.  This just confirmed what I already felt, and I knew He would bring someone else into my life.  So, when Faith came into the picture, my prayer that night after the game was “okay Lord, if this is the woman that You have for me, You know what You need to do to allow me to prove to her that I could be the husband that You have called for her.”  It’s a wonderful and blessed thing to have a personal relationship with God.  Although many people did not initially agree with my decision to move forward with my relationship with Faith (they thought I was “lonely” or “on the rebound”), I was confident in my own feelings that I wasn’t doing anything out of grief or loneliness, but rather my belief that God was not scared of me to tell me and/or Faith to slow down.

Over the next few months, I observed people become upset and withdraw from me because I didn’t consider their feelings concerning my future.  Some stopped speaking, some expressed their disappointment that they weren’t consulted, and some people made accusations with no basis for the allegations to make themselves feel better about their decision to stop speaking to me.  All I could think was “Wow!”  Faith was experiencing similar issues with people she was close to, but in the end, we supported each other (with the help of God) through daily prayer each night.  We knew that if we could withstand these assaults during the foundation of our relationship, then we knew that no weapon that would be formed against us would prosper.

– Terry