I love you. It’s a simple phrase we hear every day in the world around us. But, how often do you say those words? Other than to your parents, do you remember the first time you said those three words to someone and who first said them to you?
In a very unscientific survey over the last few weeks, I ask that question to a variety of people. The answers I received were what I kind of expected when it came to men and women’s responses. I also found that love can sometimes be said in many different ways between two people.
Feb. 14 is the day each year we have chosen to designate as Valentine’s Day—a calendar holiday that we celebrate the human emotion called, love.
It is not a recognized nation holiday by the federal government or any state. But, candy companies, card manufacturers and florists most likely list it as a top holiday. “I love you” generates millions of dollars in revenue for our country’s economy each year.
In the world of love I believe gender makes a big difference. I asked the men, do you remember the first girl that said she loved you? At this point most got a distance look on their face and said something like, “Let me think about that.” But when I asked women, that same question, they most often smile and said, “Yes.” Then I asked, “Do you remember the first time you said “I love you” to someone?” The majority of women said they remembered that moment. Men were still pondering the first question I had asked. Some even asked me if I meant for real or because the girl wanted him to say those words?
For most of us, it is the holiday we were first introduced to as part of our early social life in grade school. We decorated small white paper bags with hearts and pictures of Cupid. Red construction paper cut into shapes of hearts and outlined with white paper dollies were hung around the classroom. And on the day of love, we looked into the bags to discover the first cards we often received in our lives. And from the person that smiled at you from across the classroom you find a card in the shape of a heart and written inside it said, “I love you.” Puppy love has found you for the first time and you are not sure what it is that you are experiencing, but you know it must be a good thing.
As we grow older, love becomes a more complicated emotion. We sometimes bring expectations of what love should be into relationships. Books are written on the subject to try and define the complexities of the human heart when it comes to love. Great romance novels about the love of someone’s life are sometimes made into big screen movies. But, in the end, we each define love in our own way in a relationship.
Some couples tell each other they love one another several times a day. Others say they love each other in a smile, gentle touch or a helping hand around the house. Some say they find love because their significant other makes them laugh as they go though life. While others says it with a box of candy and a card enclosed in a dozen roses. Some women say, “I love you” many times in a marriage while some men believe they said it on their wedding day and see no sense in being redundant in the expression of their love. After all she still knows you love her. Right? Love is as different as each of us. The expectation of our youth fades as real love grows with the maturing of a relationship between two people.
I sometimes watch people at this time of year when they are buying cards for their loved one. Men pick out cards and look at the picture and quickly read the inscription. One after another they read until they find one that they believe their wife will enjoy. Then, they turn it over, look at the price, and an expression appears on their face, How much?! Women on the other hand find a card and slowly read the inscription and smile. When they find the one they want, they find a clean envelope with no finger smudges and go off to pay for the perfect representation of their love. The day before Valentines Day, pause for a moment and look down the card aisle to see how many men vs. women are purchasing last minute cards.
I asked one man if he remembered the first time he said those words; he did. “It was the woman that eventually became my wife.” I then asked, “Do you remember who first said those words to you for the first time? He again said, “Yes, it was my wife.” Then he explained they had been married for 36 years. For him love was found that first time and never lost.
Then I asked, do you have a secret to lasting love. He told me that on his wedding day a friend explained to him that he had been happily married for 22 years. The soon-to-be-newlywed knew that the man and his wife had been married longer than 22 years. The friend pointed out that it is inevitable for a marriage to have difficult times and you try to do your best and work through them. There are no easy secrets to a happy marriage, you do the best you can, that is the secret. He still remembers that advice given to him many years ago on his wedding day. The secret is not in books or movies. It is not in cards, flowers, or boxes of chocolates. It is in two people working together in good times and in difficult times to make love work.
Love often requires hard work, lots of patience, understanding, and a smile. So this Valentine’s Day perhaps all you need to do is make your loved one laugh and hold their hand to be the best Valentine gift possible. For me, I am still going to purchase a card and flowers to go along with the smile. I never take a chance that she might think I am loving, but cheap.
Most of all, tell the person that is important to you, “I love you.” That is still the best gift any of us can give or receive on this special day. It was once said that two heart beating as one is the sound of love when you hear it Thru the Lens.