On our first Valentine’s Day together, my now-husband knocked on my college dorm room door and I opened it to find him sheepishly holding a bouquet of roses. But the roses in his hands weren’t the beautiful, long stem red roses that have become the hallmark of Cupid’s biggest day. Rather, they were tiny, itty-bitty tea roses and the bouquet looked like it had been created for an elf. My husband, ever the budget-conscious fellow, had heard of what he now knew to be a too good to be true offer on Valentine’s Day flowers. The thorn in his side from being fleeced was obvious, and I couldn’t help but be charmed by a man who at least tried to romance me a little. Even if it was with roses he bought with a half-price coupon.
After we got married, I eagerly looked forward to the romancing to continue, coupons and all. But as the weeks after our wedding turned into months with nary a delivery from the local florist, I started to get miffed. He knew I loved receiving my favorite blooms, and seemingly, I married a Neanderthal who couldn’t see the benefit of keeping his wife happy. I’d pass flowers longingly in the grocery store and in florists’ windows and sigh, wishing for the day that my husband deemed me worthy of such a romantic gesture. I even dropped a few hints along the way.
But one day a few years into our marriage, as I brought a bouquet of freesia to my nose in the grocery store, it hit me: I didn’t need to wait for my romantically challenged husband to buy me flowers. I could buy my own damned flowers, thank you very much, and that’s just what I did. I bought an armload of flowers that day and my kitchen was filled with a symphony of scent that brought me joy for the rest of the week.
I realized that flowers and pretty bushes for my yard bring me joy and cheer, and I wasn’t going to waste another single second making a man responsible for whether or not I felt the simple joys in my daily life. My husband, God love him, just cannot understand the excitement I feel when I see sunflowers in early fall or daffodils poking through the winter ground in the spring. I get practically giddy when I see tulips, and yellow roses always make me smile.
For years now, I’ve been buying my own flowers, almost weekly, because they brighten up my workspace, and the scent invigorates me while I’m going about daily life. I buy my own plants and Zen gardens because taking care of plants daily makes me feel purposeful. I eagerly await the spring so that I can head to my local garden shop to buy perennials and annuals that I happily spend hours planting in my yard. Gardening is my happy place, and it’s my job to make sure that I fulfill that space in my life, not my husband’s.
I don’t need my husband to gift me with the joys I can cultivate on my own.
By chasing my own forms of joy, by making sure that I am honest about my self-care needs, I am not only giving myself a daily gift, but I’m also letting my husband off the hook for feeling responsible to make me happy. He’s loving, kind, and thoughtful in a myriad of ways, often in ways that I’d never expect. He romances me by keeping me on my toes, with surprises that have exceeded my expectations. And though flowers are a part of my love language, finding tickets to a Broadway show at the bottom of my Christmas stocking or receiving a gift I mentioned six months ago are just as romantic as a bouquet.
I choose to find my own joy, and in doing so, my husband and I have both found happiness in our marriage. We’ve learned to let go of the notion that we are beholden to each other for satisfaction in our daily lives and have learned to truly listen to what makes each other genuinely happy. That’s not to say that we don’t have romance in our marriage. Far from it, actually. I have simply accepted that my husband doesn’t place romantic value on flowers. And that’s okay. I’ll love him and his botanical deficiencies anyway because that’s what marriage is: seeing beyond your partner’s flaws and choosing to put effort into the areas that make you both flourish, much like a garden.
While his romantic gesture back in our college days may have fallen flat, those tea roses have made us laugh fondly over the years. Mostly, I’ve teased him mercilessly about his inability to part with hard-earned cash for things like flowers and candy on romantic holidays and anniversaries. He may suck at remembering to order a bouquet for my birthday, but when I see him rocking one of our children late at night when they are sick or when I feel his hand reach for mine in a darkened movie theater, he comes out smelling like a bouquet of roses.
So, ladies, buy yourself the flowers. Or the chocolates. Or the tickets. Or the jewelry. Whatever it is, just know that you don’t have to wait around for it to be gifted. Your otherwise wonderful partner may just fall flat in this department, but you don’t have to suffer, because you are a capable of buying things for your damn self. And you will not regret it.