My Favorite Valentine’s Day

By Diane Stark

“What’s your love language?” I asked my now-husband on our first date.

“Touch,” Eric answered without even thinking.

I smiled. “Mine too.” Although it was our first date, his answer seemed like confirmation of everything I’d been feeling since we’d started chatting on the dating website, eHarmony. This guy is special, maybe even The One, I thought.

Asking about someone’s love language might seem like an odd question on a first date, but for me, it was completely natural. Discovering a person’s love language is crucial for me to really know a person.

For the unfamiliar, my question was based on The Five Love Languages, a book written by Gary Chapman in 1995. In it, Dr. Chapman purports that humans communicate feelings of love in five different ways. These ways are physical touch, receiving gifts, spending quality time together, acts of service, and words of affirmation. The first three are pretty self-explanatory. Acts of service are things we do for others to help and serve them. This would be things like washing our spouse’s car or making their favorite meal. Words of affirmation are encouraging words that remind our partners of our feelings for them.

Dr. Chapman says that each person has a primary love language, or a way that others can communicate love to them most effectively. Many people have a secondary love language as well. Since there are one or two ways in which we feel loved, we often communicate love in that same way. But if our spouse has a different love language than we do, they won’t feel our love as strongly as if we communicated our feelings in their love language. Communicating love to others in our own love language feels more natural, while doing it in another love language takes some effort.

Having the same love language as one’s spouse is advantageous for obvious reasons. But simply knowing someone’s love language can help our relationships tremendously. And knowing our own is vital to getting the love we need in our relationships.

To take a quiz to determine your own love language and discover those of your loved ones, visit www.5lovelanguages.com.

My first date with my husband was eleven years ago this month. Our first Valentine’s Day was three days before our first date, but Eric still sent flowers to the elementary school where I taught kindergarten. We had a snow day that day and the next, so I didn’t receive the flowers on time, but it still melted my heart that he would send flowers to a girl he hadn’t yet met in person.

At that time, Eric and I lived about 150 miles apart. We’d made plans to meet for dinner in a town halfway between our homes, but because of the massive snow storm, Eric offered to drive all the way to me so that I wouldn’t have to drive in the snow. “I don’t want you to get stranded, plus I’ve got four wheel drive,” he added confidently.

His concern for my safety and willingness to make the whole trip himself were two more points in his favor.

Although that first date was on February 17th, rather than the 14th, that night felt like Valentine’s Day. I remember thinking that it was the best Valentine’s Day of my whole life. When Eric proposed two months later, I knew marrying him would be the best decision I could ever make.

And it has been.

For the last decade, Eric’s gifts on Valentine’s Day have been pretty cliché. He usually brings home a dozen red roses and a super mushy card. For me, the best part of every holiday is the greeting card Eric gives me. Not only does he choose the card with care, but he writes an entire paragraph about his feelings for me. More often than not, his words bring me to tears and remind me once again that I am so blessed to be married to him.

About five years ago, Eric skipped the dozen roses. Instead, he gave me a dozen greeting cards, each filled with his own words about how much he loves me and appreciates our relationship. He was concerned I’d be disappointed not to receive the flowers, but the opposite was true. The roses would end up in the trash within the week, but those cards would last forever. Even today, when Eric and I have been too busy to spend time together, I’ll pull out those cards and re-read them. My secondary love languages are words of affirmation and receiving gifts. Those cards were one of the best presents he’s ever given me. They combined all of the ways that I feel loved into one gift. Those cards were like a hug printed on red and pink paper covered with glitter.

I’m doubtful that Eric could ever top the Dozen Cards Valentine’s Day. But I never thought that our first Valentine’s Day could ever be replaced as my favorite, so maybe someday, I’ll have a new favorite V-Day.As much as I love holidays, especially ones that celebrate love and romance, it’s unrealistic to think that every day of a marriage is going to feel like Valentine’s Day. Expecting that is setting ourselves up for disappointment and probably failure. It’s also dangerous to only express our love on a Hallmark holiday once a year. Those 364 days in between are far too long a time to go without telling our loved ones how we feel. And that’s where the Five Love Languages concept comes in.

Expressing love in small ways every day is far more powerful than a big, romantic gesture once a year. Our hearts are like gas tanks. With everything we have to do in this life, they don’t stay full for very long. We need hand holding, greeting cards and kind words to keep our hearts full and our relationships healthy.

So although not every day can be as special as Valentine’s Day, we can always take a few moments each day to make our Valentine feel loved.

About this writer

  • Diane Stark

    Diane Stark

    Diane Stark is a wife and mom of five. She loves to write about her family and her faith. Her essays have been published in over 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

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One Response to “My Favorite Valentine’s Day”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Diane, what a lovely story, a true expression of love.

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