21: Private Displays of Affection

21: Private Displays of Affection

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

Private Displays of Affection

A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver.

~Thomas à Kempis

I have never seen my parents kiss. Not once. Not even a peck on the cheek. I would imagine that they have — at some point. There must have been some romance during their courtship. But publicly, no one, as far as I know, has witnessed a display of affection between my mom and dad — except for the day they were married.

My mom has tolerated my dad’s disinterest in all things amorous for almost thirty-five years and has rarely made mention of it. I’m sure that she would like to have some daisies on her birthday or a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, but she is past the point of turning something frivolous into an argument. On more than one occasion, she has told me, “I know how to find the candy aisle in the store. No big deal.”

“Well, that’s not how it will be when I got older,” said a younger, much more naïve version of myself. “My husband will bring me flowers every afternoon when he comes home from work. I will get sparkling jewelry for no particular occasion, cuddly puppies on Valentine’s Day, and expensive European chocolates at least once a month.”

My mom smiled and said, “That sounds nice, honey.”

Today, my mom and I are a lot alike. We both enjoy travel, a well-written book, a delicious meal, and jobs that offer intrinsic rewards. We are also married to very similar men — men who don’t have any interest in shopping for flowers, planning a surprise party, or holding hands in the middle of a crowded street.

Funny how things work out, huh?

Interestingly enough, they are working out — quite well. My husband Craig and I were married almost six years ago. He did kiss me during our ceremony but I felt him cringe just a little. After all, a lot of people were watching. I could probably count on my hands the number of times I have received flowers from him, and I have only gotten jewelry once, other than my wedding ring.

I don’t have any stories to share about a romantic wedding proposal, a surprise trip to Tahiti, or a Christmas puppy with a red ribbon around his neck. I live a modest life with few surprises and minimal luxuries. But here’s what I do have:

I have a husband who always consults me before making major purchases. I have a husband who is not afraid to take on a load of laundry or cook a meal when I’m knee-deep in lesson plans. He has even tackled the bathrooms when I have been incredibly swamped with work. He does what needs to be done around our house and he never complains.

Last year, I commented that I was tired of getting wet grass on my shoes when walking from our house to the detached garage. The following weekend, Craig spent six hours building me a walkway. He carefully dug up the earth and arranged large bricks in a semicircle that led from the driveway to the garage. It was a beautiful gesture and my shoes have remained dry since. But I must admit that my eyes were a little wet when I first saw his work.

A few months ago, I was almost in tears from the effort of trying to organize my closet. I was having a lot of trouble finding what I needed to get ready for work. My closet has always been my worst enemy and I wanted desperately to have more space for my favorite garments.

Without being asked, Craig came into the bedroom and offered suggestions that would make better use of my space: labeling shoe boxes, stacking slacks and sweaters, putting purses in crates, and storing rarely worn items under the bed. He helped me finally win the battle of the closet — I had been fighting it for years.

Just recently, Craig sat beside me in the emergency room while I waited for test results. He pretended to haphazardly attach various monitors to my body and examine me with several instruments. We were laughing so hard when the doctor finally returned that I was afraid I might be admitted — to the psych ward. Craig always finds a way to bring humor into the most stressful situations.

Craig is patient, supportive, respectful and kind. He is a true partner and a friend who improves my mood and the quality of my life. He may not kiss me in public, but that’s okay. Those moments are ours, just between the two of us.

Valentine’s Day will be rolling around soon. I know a lot of women will probably unwrap some pretty jewelry or receive a bouquet of flowers. Craig might get me a card. He might not get me anything. But I will not feel any less loved. I never have.

Sure, there are some days when I wouldn’t mind having a sparkly bracelet or a box of candy. But fortunately, I am a lot like my mom. And I have known my way around the mall for a long time.


~Melissa Face

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