Loving your wife when you hate the "romantic industrial complex"

Men, as we enter the week of Valentine's Day, is there a part of you that feels a little anxious as sellers of romantic gifts and services peddle their wares and set expectations for how men should go about translating love for their wives? Are you tempted to just write it off as a Hallmark holiday and boycott the whole thing? If so, I think you'll enjoy something my colleagues Randy Stinson and Dan Dumas wrote about this that ran in the Southern Seminary Towers magazine:

Some men who suspect they should do more to express love to their wives are turned off by what we call the “romantic industrial complex”—the producers of cards, jewelry, flower arrangements, chick flicks, chocolates, candlelit dinners, stuffed bears, getaways and other romantic stuff — vendors who seem to be in a conspiracy to hyper-commercialize romance, they run men VD-gift-620x377through a gauntlet of unrealistic expectations and then extort them into paying to prove their affection. You know it’s gotten out of control when Evergreen Waste Services of Delaware runs an ad that says, “For Valentine’s Day, nothing says ‘I love you’ like affordable, reliable trash service” (Can you imagine the husband that banks his Valentine’s Day on that gesture?).

Because of this kind of craziness, a lot of men we know tend to check out and write it all off as beneath them. There’s a lot to hate about the business aspects of romance. But you have to make sure you don’t throw out your baby (your wife) with the “Romantic Raspberry” scented bath water. You don’t have to become a mindless consumer of the romantic industrial complex, but you do need to love your wife and live with her in an understanding way. What matters is being enough of a student of who your wife is — what delights and encourages her — that you can customize your romantic efforts to her and tune out all the mass marketed stuff that you know doesn’t communicate love to your wife.

This study of your one-of-a-kind wife may lead you to see that what blesses her most are things, like encouraging words, uninterrupted conversations, morning notes, back rubs and other priceless things while expensive gifts and dinners out register little with her if they aren’t given in a way that shows that you know her. Your ongoing effort to know your wife and bless her distinctly may, however, lead you to realize that you need to “get off your wallet” and stop being stingy with your investment in her. And that may mean venturing out into the so-called romantic industrial complex. But you can (and should) bring leadership to the process. Have a good laugh at the “love junk” that gets marketed, but go take dominion and bring something back that shows that you know and cherish your wife. In that spirit, you can buy flowers, chocolates, cards and other things as unto the Lord and all to the glory of God.

I hope this is helpful as you seek to bless your wife this week.