I Never Forget Valentine’s Day (now)

I never forget Valentine’s Day now, but it was not always that way. I like to think of myself as a person who tries to be a good husband. Growing up in the age of Phil Donahue, it was always my goal to be understanding of the needs of my wife. My greatest desire was to have a marriage that was free of strife with just a minimum of argument.

I grew up in a day much different than today. Husbands were not required to be understanding of the needs of their spouses or children. Dad came home and dinner was on the table. He was not interested in my mother’s problems and children were to be seen and not heard. We spoke when spoken to and believe me; we spoke to him in a respectful manner. Sir, followed most comments to “the old man”.

As I got older, my father would tell me to learn from his mistakes. He was talking about my mother and the “stupid” things that she would do. Well, I did learn. I am afraid I did not learn the lessons he wanted me to learn. I learned that I did not want the same type of family that he had created. I did not want a family filled with fear of me. I worked to keep my wife and children happy. This was my ideal. No strife. Happy family. Of course, like most fantasies, I was not always successful and occasionally, there was strife. At those times, I would get very frustrated and wonder in disbelief how I could have failed in my quest for a happy home.  This is the story of one of those failures.

Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. I am not complaining.  Over the years, I have learned that strife is part of life, part of any interpersonal relationship. All we can do is give life our best effort. Occasionally, arguments happen and the best we can hope for is to learn from them and not repeat the mistakes that caused the argument.

About 18 years ago, we lived in Northern Virginia. I was on active duty with the Navy. We lived in a pleasant area of town. We had a nice apartment. On the weekends, I would go to the local gas station and have coffee with the manager. Joe and I had become friends. I used to come in and fix any computer problems that he had and we would talk about our families or other topics as they crossed our minds.

On this particular day, I got up as usual and everything seemed normal. After a bit of time, my wife’s mood seemed to get worse and worse. Eventually I decided that she was having one of her moods and it would be best, if I wanted any peace today, to go and visit my friend Joe for a while. So, off I went to the gas station.

I had a fine visit with my friend. I fixed his printer (Micro computers were new to him and he was pretty useless at doing routine tasks such as adjusting the paper feed in the printer.), the coffee flowed as did the conversation. We discussed that fact that my wife seemed to be in a rotten mood today. As usual, her mood was horrid for no good reason. After all, I was a good husband and would know if I had done anything to deserve my wife’s ire. After several hours away from the home, I decided it was time to go back into the lion’s den and face my wife. With some trepidation, I got back in my car and departed for home with the hope that I would survive the encounter with my angry spouse.

Before I continue, I must admit that during this time, my wife and I were experiencing a difficult time in our relationship. Blame it on financial responsibilities, the pressures of married life, raising 4 children, whatever. The fact is, we had stopped communicating. As a consequence, our interactions had become strained.

So, I arrive home from my friend’s gas station. My wife is on the couch and as I entered the living room, I received a “frosty” look from her. Well, I thought, I am not going to continue with this! I have not done anything to deserve this treatment, so, I decided to take the bull by the horns and find out, once and for all, what the problem here is.

Being as indelicate as possible, I demanded to know what the problem was.

My wife exploded at me. “Has our marriage disintegrated to the point that I have to BEG for a VALENTINE CARD?” she yelled.

Now, remember, I had come into the room with “all guns blazing.” I was so sure that I was right and that she had lost her mind in a frenzy of female hormones. There was nothing she could say to show me to be in the wrong. I did not deserve to be treated like this. I was positive!

Well, when she informed me that it was Valentine’s Day and I realized that I had forgotten, I knew I was wrong. The wind was sucked from my sails. I didn’t even bother to apologize. I swept the car keys up from the table, checked my pocket for my wallet and made a hasty exit.

I needed to regroup. I returned to the gas station to inform Joe what had happened. He looked a little surprised to see me so soon. I told him that I had found out why my wife was so angry with me. When I told him that I had forgotten Valentine’s Day, his reaction was simple and direct. “Well, I guess someone is going shopping.” He said. I told him that I didn’t believe that any amount of shopping was going to fix this problem, however, I was going to give it my best shot.

I returned home about an hour later. My arms were laden with gifts of all descriptions: Flowers, Candy, a card and even some sort of figurine.

After much groveling on my part, my wife eventually forgave me and the day progressed in some semblance of happiness. Things around the house were a little strained for a bit but, I learned my lesson.

Here we stand nearly 20 years later. I have never forgotten Valentine’s Day since and I learned an important lesson. If I had just talked to my wife sooner, I wouldn’t have had to deal with the anger she felt when I had been thoughtless. No excuse. It was my fault.


Happy Valentine’s Day to you all.

NavyCoffee NavyCoffee
2 Responses Feb 14, 2010

Yep...she is a lucky woman.

What a great story---so noble of you to take the high road and go purchase a card and gifts for her. She's a lucky woman.