Spring struggled to arrive in New England this year. We’d had only about half the usual inches of snowfall until mid-February, then caught up over a matter of days and had snow on the ground into April. The late burst of wintry weather left me yearning for signs of spring late in a gloomy March.
On my way into Trader Joe’s to do the grocery shopping, I paused by the cheerful floral display and gave in to temptation. I bought a small bouquet. Arranging them in a vase at home, I caught the thought flitting through my mind:
“I wish DH had bought these flowers for me.”
And then I stopped, took stock, and realized that he had.
My husband makes this kind of little effort all the time. He’s not a born romantic, but a self-made one. He knows that romantic flourishes make me feel loved, so he adds them to his agenda and perhaps ticks them off a to do list. But he does them. He makes the gestures. He prioritizes my happiness. He shows his love for me in this and other ways all the time.
I have friends who sigh that their husbands consider cut flowers a waste of money; they would complain if they came home and saw these sunflowers on the table. My husband says, “Ah, good, here’s something to make you happy, and I didn’t even have to stop by a store.”
So when my husband made his way home that evening, the first thing I said to him was:
“Thank you for the flowers!”
His face read froze into half-pleased puzzlement. I’m guessing his thoughts were something like, “Did I do something I’ve forgotten?” or “Is this some kind of trick I can’t yet figure out?”
He works too hard and he comes home tired, but more often than not his welcome is a list of complaints, demands, and urgent declarations. I’m as guilty of this as the kids are. The boys want their dad’s approval; I want an adult ear and the support of my partner. We all clamor for his attention because his time at home is too scarce and so precious.
“I bought myself flowers,” I explained to him, “and then I realized that they’re from you. I know that you would have bought me flowers if you’d been at the store. I know that you would buy me flowers every day if you could. You make it so obvious that you love me, I couldn’t miss it if I tried. So you bought me these flowers. Thank you.”
Generous love means meeting the needs of your partner in the way your partner requires. I ask for occasional flowers, a hand with the dishes, validation for my work in the home; he wants to be fed something he likes, to be appreciated for his hard work, to be given some time and space to unfurl his public stresses before fully engaging with the family in the evening.
This was my turn to be generous. Here was a loving gesture from me that DH could happily receive. His efforts are appreciated. His gestures have been noticed. His love has been accepted, and reciprocated.