Every St. Valentine’s Day leaves men at a loss for telling their girlfriends or wives how much they love them. Very often, whether a dozen red roses, a box of chocolates, or a hand-written poem, nothing seems to suffice. If you homeschool husbands find yourself in this predicament, don’t feel too bad. We’ve all been there. In fact, I’ve always been there.
For all my adult life, I’ve tried to find those special words, that arrangement of human expression that adequately illustrates how much I love Lisa. I have consistently failed.
Not that I haven’t tried. I have. And I’ve had a long time to try. Most of my life, in fact.
I have previously written about how I chased Lisa for almost two years before she agreed to date me, and over a year from that date before she accepted my proposal. All in all, I’ve been pursuing her since I was seventeen years old. Even at the tender age of seventeen, the thought of spending the rest of your life with someone is daunting. In fact, it can be quite scary. Yet, love reaches a point at which the thought of not spending your life with your beloved is even scarier. I hit that point quickly and definitively, but not surprisingly.
A relationship of a quarter-century has other memorable signposts.
I remember the first day I knew I wanted to see Lisa again tomorrow.
I remember the first time I knew I wanted to marry her.
I remember thinking, just one year after our wedding, how a woman like this was such a great natural mother.
Yes, it was a wonderful pursuit. But as I have come increasingly to realize, this life—this part of the journey—is only one chapter of the story. Chasing her, it seems, is my lot in life, because the next step of this excursion continues. It is to follow her to Heaven with our children where the everlasting splendour of true love is perpetually fulfilled. I know that this earthly life is not enough—nothing less than eternity is sufficient for true love. I know that ours is an immortal love, finding its fulfillment only in the presence of God.
I think that this transcendental nature of love is the reason we cannot locate the words. Perhaps my chosen career as a writer is my lifelong effort to try. I fail, but I am strangely comforted that I’m not alone.
The great poets—those whom history remembers with particular fondness, such as Dante, Browning, and Shakespeare—are congratulated for discovering their extraordinary words. Everyone compliments them on how well they articulated their affection for their beloveds. But I’ll make you a gentleman’s wager that each of them remained unsatisfied at how inadequately he expressed his love.
As the devout Catholic who kneels before the Blessed Sacrament in the solace of silence can tell you, words only take you so far. It is the silent serenity of the presence of love that engulfs our hearts and stills our souls.
Maybe that’s the lesson we all need to learn: that the richness of love succeeds where the poverty of words fails.
To the wives reading this: I suspect that you are bothered by your husband’s imperfections and foibles. We do not know the right words. We forget to take out the trash. We are thinking about our baseball team when we should be listening to you.
But when we’re singing along to love songs in our cars on the way back home to you, it is you we are singing about.
For now, our love finds its expression in things of understated magnitude. It is present in the otherwise unexciting conformities of life, like paying utility bills, navigating routes to work each sunrise, and sounding out consonants with our children. For now, that is what immortal love looks like. But remember there will come a moment with the Author of love, when flaws will fade, in a place where the fog will clear and love’s perfection will be experienced for the first time.
As we all celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, my humble advice and my hope for you homeschooling wives is simple. Please look for your husband’s love in places like these—because it is there. Like the stone on your finger, we have blemishes, but like the diamond, we are yours.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day!