My eyes were fixed on the Church’s floor and I was ranting like a little child, “God, my Valentines wasn’t wonderful. It didn’t turn out the way I expected it to be.”
I lifted my gaze and what I saw left me speechless. On both sides of the altar were a bunch of pink roses, the flowers I'd been dying to receive on Valentines day! In the silence of my heart I heard God telling me, “I can fill whatever is lacking.”
Days before Valentines day, I’d been thinking about what present to give for my husband. My first plan was to paint on canvass but since we are always together, I knew I wouldn’t have the time to paint sneakily so I scratched that idea. I decided to give him a hand-made Valentine's card instead. I wanted the design to signify our love story. Then the thought of the Holy Eucharist came to mind since we first met at an Adoration chapel. That gave me an inspiration to put in one drawing the sacred heart of Jesus with blood dripping from it, His crown of thorns at the centre of His heart, the Holy Eucharist above it and a cross at the top with fire all around it representing the Holy Spirit and lastly, the blue and red rays coming from His sacred heart which represents the divine mercy light of blood and water and so the sacraments. I was so excited to do it but the challenge was when to do it.
On Saturday, 10th of February my husband Brendan went to Mass alone. I didn’t go with him as I was super grumpy. My monthly friend was on its way so my emotions were uncontrollable. (You know this girls, we’re very emotional when this unwelcome monthly friend visits, right?) As I was lying in bed I knew it was the perfect time to create the card but I also didn’t feel like doing it because I was still mad at him. My love for him won and even at one of my angriest moments I was able to make something beautiful for him.
Afraid that my hubby would catch me preparing my present, I constantly looked out the window to see if his car was parked outside. Usually Mass finishes in an hour so my goal was to finish the artwork by then. I used water colour gel for my painting so it took longer than I expected. An hour passed and I finished nothing but the sacred heart. I even had to use my hair dryer to dry the painting faster. To my delight my husband went out for groceries after Mass so he arrived after two hours. As soon as he entered the room I started to feel abdominal pains. I always suffer from severe dysmenorrhea on the first day of my monthly friend’s visit. Amazing how God arranged everything. Had I felt abdominal pains 2 hours earlier and if my husband went home straight after Mass, I wouldn’t be able to finish the card.
Valentines day came and I felt so excited! Since it was our first Valentines day together, I expected it to be a splendid one. I imagined that he would wake me up with a kiss, with flowers, chocolates, teddy bear, and a Valentines card. He did wake me up with a kiss but without a single present. I was so disheartened but I didn’t make it obvious. I handed him the card I made. Tears fell from his eyes as he read my message. We went to Mass together and I was hopeful he would give his presents after Mass. A day before Valentines he went out, telling me that he would check if his colleagues were out playing touch rugby so he could join. I suspected it was an excuse so he could buy me a Valentines present but I was wrong. After Mass he invited me to lunch but my mind was so focused already on “He didn’t buy me a present. He didn’t make me feel special!” and I kept pouting.
He kept on pleading for me to go out with him so I got up and dressed up. I asked him to wear something casual, not a formal business suit as I didn’t want him to be overdressed. I was just wearing a simple though styly floral dress and I also didn’t think we were going to eat at an elegant restaurant. He didn’t agree to that, reasoning that his blazer would look better in photos. After a few seconds he blurted out angrily, “Ok! I’ll remove my blazer for you!” Our argument started to heat up and since I was already hurting from the moment my expectations didn’t happen, I blew it all up. I changed my clothes, went to bed, and cried. I pitied myself. It was one of my most awaited moments and the dream of a romantic Valentines went down the drain. Last year’s Valentines we were away from each other and I thought we would make up for that lost chance of celebrating a special day.
Memories of my past flooded. I saw myself as a teenage girl looking at other girls with bouquet of flowers, teddy bear, and chocolates in their hands. I’ve always wondered as to when would I experience the same amazing feeling of carrying beautiful presents from someone who believes I’m special enough to deserve such affection.
While I was crying my husband comforted me and asked repeatedly if we could go out but my mind and heart were already closed to the idea of redeeming the moment. I turned to Facebook which was a bad idea because my newsfeed was flooded with cheesy love notes, pictures of flowers, wine, chocolates, and dinner dates posted by girls who were very pleased by the surprises their lovers prepared for them. I decided to watch a romantic comedy film instead but it just made me cry all the more so I just went to bed. Eyes closed, I wished the moment that I open my eyes would be the next day. I just wanted Valentines day to be over.
To my dismay I couldn’t sleep. I looked out the window and I noticed my husband’s car had gone. I thought, “He went out to finally buy presents for me.” An idea came to mind! I thought of pretending to be asleep. I imagined him waking me up with the sweet fragrance of roses. Joy rushed to my heart with the thought of him surprising me.
When he came back, he had nothing on his hands. He asked me out for dinner but my mind was too busy thinking, “Where did he put the flowers?” I thought he left the flowers on the table where I do my paintings so I rushed there. I see no flowers on the table so I felt dismayed again. I went back to bed and cried rivers of tears. I saw Brendan’s journal and I wrote on February 14’s page, “This is my worst Valentines ever! I didn’t even receive a card.”
Brendan went back to the room, he read what I had written and said, “Honey, I have presents for you.”
He placed on the bedside table a red rose, a box of chocolates, and a Valentine's card. My heart was already hardened so I failed to appreciate him or the presents. I criticized instead, saying, “I knew those chocolates have been here before I even came here in NZ. It’s not like you bought it just today as a Valentine's present.” (I saw chocolates in our closet when I arrived from Philippines)
“Do you really want me to buy chocolates when I already have them?” he answered. He also reminded me how I said I don’t want flowers on Valentines Day because he gave me flowers already on the 7th of February which are still alive to this day and that I said I didn't want him spending extra money on me. I did say it but I didn’t mean it. (So girls, don’t say anything you don’t mean in the hopes of a surprise because your boyfriend/husband might take it seriously)
I was still focused on how he fell short of my expectations so I still said no to going out for dinner. He decided to cook dinner for us instead and served it the way food is served in restaurants. Brendan came to the room saying, “Here’s the entrée Ma’am.” My stomach growled as the smell of fried crumbed prawns filled my nostrils when he waved them tantalizingly under my nose. He went back with wine glasses and opened one of the wines he had kept for me. My heart was softened but my stubborn side didn’t let it show. The third time he came back to the room he brought in corn on cob and baked pasta with bacon and mixed veggies topped with cheese.
It looked so appetizing and I knew he had put so much effort to come up with a delicious meal to please his super grumpy wife. My conscience was telling me to just let go of my failed expectations and just appreciate my husband for what he had done; forgetting what he failed to do. However, I was overpowered by my crazy emotions.
Two days after Valentines day, I sat in front of the Lord at St.John Vianney parish, mesmerized by the pink roses at the altar which spoke the message, “Elly, I love you more than your husband loves you and I love your husband more than you love him.” I realized I have a big God who never fails to fill whatever is lacking in my heart and in my husband’s heart. He is the only one who can meet our deepest longings and desires.
Most women (if not all) set standards as to how their boyfriend/husband should care and love them. There is danger in doing this as it blocks the ability to see the little things men do to make the woman in their life feel special. I am not saying men should not exert more effort to show affection to their woman and vice versa. What I’m saying is most often than not, men could not really guess how a woman wants to be surprised in a certain way. Men couldn’t read a woman’s mind nor understand hints from what she says or her gestures and facial expressions.
In marriage, hurting each other unintentionally is inevitable. I failed my husband many times. I too can fall short of his expectations. We come from two different worlds; we struggle with differences in culture, personality, interests, etc. Our love for each other isn’t perfect. We are two imperfect people joined together in Holy Matrimony called to holiness (see Matthew 54:8) by the One who loves us perfectly.
Elly Roberts is an author, speaker, and artist. She uses her God-given gifts to serve God and His people. Having experienced so much suffering from childhood, she dreams of building a foundation for abandoned kids. She has counseled many women on mending a broken heart and finding love. Her writing style is very personal, honest, humble, and inspiring.
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