After the popularity of my Well Styled Mama Top Christmas Gift Picks List, I knew I wanted to feature posts, from time to time, that are just for us Mamas who are behind all of well styled children! And while the Christmas list was focused on gifts, as I started to think about what I would love to receive myself for Valentine's Day-- I started to think a bit beyond the tangible. I began thinking about what, for me, would communicate: I love you, I cherish you, I still want to date you, I appreciate you, I see the many tasks you regularly do that seemingly go unnoticed, I love how you take care of our children.
There's a popular series of books by Gary Chapman based on what he calls The 5 Love Languages. The main idea of the book is that there are 5 main ways in which people receive and also communicate or give love: Words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, gifts & quality time. The primary way in which you express love is also the main way in which you receive love from others. By not being aware of how your partner naturally communicates love, you may very well be missing out on all of the ways they ARE expressing love to you.
For example, my primary love language is receiving gifts and so my inclination early on in my relationship with my husband was to always give him gifts-- whether they be big or small-- they were always super thoughtful, creative and personal. While he always thought they were cute or sweet, they never had the impact they might have, had his primary love language been receiving gifts-- like me. In fact, the more I've gotten to know him, the more I realize that gifts just don't mean much to him at all! What I've come to learn about my husband is that he most often will express love through acts of service. No matter what is going on around us, if I ask him to do anything that can be done right away-- whether it be to take out the trash, or help me get something off a shelf-- he will immeidately stop whatever he is doing to help me. Because I know that is his love language, I am aware of the fact that he is communicating love to me when he does those things. Marriage is all about give and take. And while we need to stretch ourselves to love our partners in the way that most communicates love to them, we will feel so much more loved in return if we can home in on the ways they are communicating their love to us on a daily basis that could very well be just falling off our radar!
Okay, okay, isn't this post supposed to be about Valentine's Day gifts-- why yes, yes it is! I took the time to spell all of that out to make this point. My primary love language is receiving gifts and the gifts that I've received over the years that mean the MOST to me are those gifts that, when I opened them, my immediate reaction was, "This is so me!" A gift becomes valuable to me when I realize that the giver knew and understood me well enough to give me something that would resonate with me. They listened to me. Even though my love language is gifts, we all have an innate desire to want to be known well-- to be understood and to be loved for the unique person we have come to be. So the gift ideas I offer to you today are those which touch on the intangible. Gifts, that when coupled with some simple actions will communicate more than any one present has the ability to do.
The Gift of Planning
For Valentine's Day (or any day for that matter), most women would love for their husbands to be proactive enough to just plan a date all on their own. No need to consult with her on what she wants to do or eat-- plan it all and let her know what you've planned AFTER everything is solidified. If you're married, trust your instincts well enough to pick a restaurant and/or activities that you know she'll enjoy and hopefully something you both can enjoy together. Women love for you to take the lead when it comes to pursuing them! Schedule the babysitter (honey, if you're reading this, I do already have a sitter scheduled), choose the activities, make the reservation. Plan it, schedule it and own it so much that you don't require a reminder on February 13-- show her that it's important to you and not just another February 14th on the calendar. All of these things will convey to her that you're still excited to have her on your arm and that you remember the thrill and excitement of what it's like to date the person you know you want to spend the rest of your life with. Even if finances are tight at the present moment, taking time to thoughtfully plan a date at home can mean just as much as going out to a fancy restaurant.
I know it's easy to fall in the trap of just being "comfortable" and assuming you no longer need to actively look for ways to communicate your love, desire or appreciation for your spouse-- but doing these things is SO vital. I know that when my husband is actively communicating love to me, it doesn't just make me feel better about our relationship or our marriage, but it just gives me a better perspective on all of life. It makes me feel lighter, less stressed, more capable-- love is transforming like that. And so the adage is proved true...happy wife, happy life!
The Gift of Free Time
This might be the most simple, yet one of the best gifts ever that a wife could receive! While it is so important to regularly spend time together as a couple-- there's something to be said for a woman having time alone with absolutely NO agenda. Free time with no kids, no expectations to be home by a certain time, no phone calls or texts about "what do I do with the kids next". Allow her to be off the grid, totally unplugged. Wives, imagine your husband saying, "I've cleared my whole day for Saturday. I'm getting up with the kids and taking them out. You sleep in, take a bath and then take the day to go and do whatever it is that you want to do. Don't worry about us-- go enjoy-- I have it covered." If you wondering if this legitimately qualifies as a "gift", just spend ten minutes perusing Facebook-- you will see at least half a dozen women posting cartoons that read, "You know you're a mother when you consider going to the bathroom by yourself the height of luxury," or "You know you're a mother when a grocery trip to Target by yourself feels like a spontaneous getaway." Give her a whole day off and she will feel like a new woman...guaranteed!
The Gift of Free Time with Gift Cards
Now taking this concept of the gift of free time, adding some well thought-out gift cards into the mix will score some mega, ultra, extra points. For some reason, gift cards can have this stigma of "I don't know you well enough to get you a good gift, so here's a gift card." That couldn't be further from the truth for me. As someone who loves gifts and loves to shop-- I love gift cards! But there's nothing quite as relaxing as getting to just shop on your own! I would love for my husband to repeat the above, "I've cleared my whole day for Saturday. I'm getting up with the kids and taking them out. You sleep in, take a bath and here's a gift card to Pottery Barn-- go enjoy shopping, oh, and here's a gift card to Panera for lunch too!" Or even better, "Hey honey, I made you an appointment at the spa for a massage, facial and pedicure, I already took care of the bill." You see, not only did you buy her the gift of ultimate relaxation, you took the initiative to SCHEDULE it with the commitment to hold down the fort at home while she can go and enjoy and not have to be pressured to be home! Thinking ahead, taking initiative and being proactive are HUGE in my book! So what if you scheduled her spa day during the same time as something else that was already on the calendar-- even if a phone call has to be made to the spa to reschedule the appointment, the fact that you took the extra step to do that will communicate more to her than just the gift alone!
The Gift of Appreciation
As a full-time stay at home wife and mom, it so often feels like I do so much throughout the day that isn't seen or just isn't noticed. Right this very minute, my kitchen is sparkly and clean and has a slight aroma of fresh lemon. As soon as I'm done blogging here, I'm going to get up and start prepping dinner. Within the next twenty minutes, my 3 year old will be bounding down the stairs, awake from her nap and demanding ten things at once. Chances are, when my husband comes through the door at 6pm, my kitchen won't be sparkly or clean and it will smell like tacos, not fresh lemon. I know you've all seen the cartoon that says something along the lines of "Housework is the thing no one notices until it doesn't get done!" How true is that?! I often do things consciously and on purpose while I'm cleaning to actively show my husband I love him. But I'm not sure if my husband catches the fact that when I clean the bathroom that I take time to clean his handheld mirror-- or the fact that I pick up his electric toothbrush and clean it and the base. Does he realize that I pay attention to when his deodorant or toothpaste is running low and have a replacement there before he asks for it? I should mention that I'm not saying my husband never notices these things-- he is always quick to thank me any time he does notice the big and little things I do. But at the same time, because my husband is not on the same wavelength as me when it comes to managing our home, I would love it if he would intentionally tune in to that a bit more-- not necessarily to do more-- but to notice and appreciate that I DO do those things.
You know what would be a fabulous idea to show your wife how much you appreciate the little things she does? Start leaving her little notes in those areas where you know she'll be sure to find them when she is doing them. On the bathroom counter, on top of the washing machine. If she works-- how about her brief case or purse, drop her a note in her lunch bag before she leaves for the office for the day-- or put something on her car seat to let her know how much you appreciate her sacrifice to leave her home and family each day. As women, we are the keepers of our home. We are generally the ones who have everyone's schedule and needs simultaneously ticking through our minds at any given moment. We're always thinking out beyond the present moment to what needs to happen next to keep it all on track, on schedule and sane. It means a great deal when I know my husband recognizes and appreciates what I do behind the scenes. It validates the unseen and lets me know that my gestures done with the best intentions of love and service are seen. It communicates to me that he is tuning into the love I am expressing towards him.
Well, hopefully I've given you some good ideas, or just some inspiration to come up with your own ideas. I know this post isn't full of easy-to-click Amazon links, but I hope it challenges you to more actively think about how you communicate love to your partner. Above all, I really challenge you to not just complacently settle into a groove where your spouse is concerned. True love is not selfish, but the amazing thing is that when when you are loved well, you will love well in return-- it's a blessed give and take relationship. Marriage, when done well, is designed to be a life-giving union, not a energy sucking vacuum! Be inspired, love well, make it an unforgettable Valentine's Day and move beyond the ordinary into the extraordinary.