This is the month many men dread, and not just because we should have gotten all our tax forms in the mail by now. No, we are all tied up in knots because we are supposed to find an original way to display our love to our wives. I have known some men who are great at this; they plan out an amazing meal and evening events that would put paid organizers to shame. Year after year, these guys think up creative and exciting ways to surprise their wives, and they make me look bad. I am so terrible at managing “special occasions” that I actually bought the same card for my wife two years in a row. That’s not a joke; I went to the store, looked through all the cards, and picked out the one I liked, which also happened to be the same one still sitting on top of our prominently displayed family piano from the year before.
As a husband and dad I don’t always get everything right, but thank God all I am doesn’t ride on that one day a year. Some years I’ve been better at this romance thing; at other times I’ve had more grace to listen to my wife and understand her. To me love has always been about more than flowers and candy: it’s displayed in the things I do, and in how I have learned to change the way I act for the sake of both my wife and children. I watch my children make mistakes I told them to avoid, but, like me, they have to learn the hard way. I have sat and listened as they felt the sting of hard lessons, and I’ve tried real hard not to break out in “I told you so!” As a dad I have had the responsibility to discipline my children. It isn’t what I’d like to do. I want to be the fun dad, the one everyone likes, but that wouldn’t be love. I have had to make tough choices for our family, not just popular ones. At times I have shown love by making sacrifices, giving up what I wanted so that my wife or children could have what they wanted or needed. I did this gladly; my family has no need to know about most of these sacrifices. I have prayed for them, that they might continue to seek after God. I have asked that they might someday find a special someone who loves them and spurs them on to be their best. I have thanked God for the one he brought me twenty four years ago who has done the same thing for me. At times, I have tried to be the husband who relieves my wife from having to be the “go to” for all things child related.
I have tried to listen thoughtfully when my wife or kids asked me for things, though I admit to having a contrarian streak. I have taken care of pets that have died, or taken them to the vet when it was their time, even though I hate doing it. I have dug graves for goats and rabbits that didn’t make it, and bought new animals knowing someday the cycle will repeat. I have changed oil in cars, checked tire pressure, and repaired things I had no idea how to fix beforehand, not because I enjoy doing it, but because it means saving money so that my family can afford to do other things. I have sat at all-day-long band and debate tournaments that would otherwise have bored me to tears, just to see the smile it put on my child’s face. I have stood on the sidelines waiting for halftime so that I could move marching band equipment onto the field in sub-freezing temperatures. I have quit jobs that I thought took too much time away from my family and accepted jobs that meant they could have more opportunities.
I know I have probably failed more times than I have succeeded at expressing just how much my family means to me, but I hope that my actions have spoken louder than words I fumble to express. As I see it, it is actions that display real love.