Published Monday, February 18, 2013

John Winters column: Learning the ropes of romance and marriage


The Little Black Dress says I have an ornery streak. That, or I’m a glutton for punishment. 

I wrote the following column years ago. And I always repost it around this time of year because, well, like I said. 

Here you go, with a few updates to reflect the times:

I’d like to pass on some important information I learned the hard way. This is addressed primarily to those young men just starting to date, but it also applies to those who, after years and years, still don’t get it.

Women take Valentine’s Day seriously. Very seriously.

If you remember this, you will live and prosper. If you forget it, look up the word “hermit.”

I learned this painful truth several years ago. The setting was a Sunday school class for newly married couples at National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. I believe the time was 10:32 a.m. Our teacher was discussing the upcoming Valentine’s Day and asking each of us what we planned to do with our spouses. When it came my turn, I made “the comment.” Basically, I said I wasn’t crazy about Valentine’s Day because it was one of those “obligatory days.”

There was a stunned silence, followed by war whoops from the men, shooting daggers from the women and a punch in the arm from the LBD. After that, I believe she said something to the effect of not knowing me and that her husband was on a business trip.

Now, before all the women go all nuclear, let me explain ...

Yeah. I’m still trying to explain that comment to The Dress after all these years. To her credit, she can sort of kid about it now – sort of.

I’m one of those who just doesn’t like being told I have to do something “special” just because some big company turned it into some marketing gimmick. Why do I have to be extra special on one particular day versus another? I love anniversaries. That’s a day I picked – OK, The Dress picked – and we chose that day to celebrate our marriage. But I have a real problem with Hallmark, florists and the balloon companies telling me I have to be “extra” special on Feb. 14.

Personally, I try to be as good as a husband as I can every day. I mean, isn’t that the point? I’ll pick up food for dinner at our local grocery stores and spy some roses or other arrangements, and I’ll get those as well.

Yes, part of that is because of “the comment.” But it’s also because I want to. And hopefully all the wives in town just went “aaahhhh.” And yes, I know the husbands just went, “we are going to kill you in your sleep.”

Yet woe to me – and you – if we don’t go all out on Valentine’s Day. I am finally picking up on the nuances.  

And I usually come out ahead on Valentine’s Day. My idea of a great Valentine’s Day involves secrets with help from a friend named Victoria, who has yet to fail me. Take your time, you’ll get it.

And at this point, the wives are going “in your dreams” and the husbands are going “you da man!”

Life is often a Catch-22.

The Little Black Dress is much better at Valentine’s Day than me. I get all kinds of little presents and fun redeemable coupons. But she’s the romantic, while I’m the helpless bumbling fool still trying to make amends for a comment I made years ago. 

I can’t think of the last time the two of us went out by ourselves on Valentine’s Day. Partly because everyone else is, so you know I have to be different. And partly because we love to hang out in the kitchen and create. 

And the SONs of Thunder are here now. And we look at them and realize there isn’t a better gift for any day. And so we cook up something spectacular and pop in a movie with the entire clan.

Deep down, I still think it’s an obligatory day. But I think we should just flip the dog - don’t just sent flowers on Valentine’s Day and funerals; look up the word “spontaneous.”  Don’t be tied to an “obligation.” Make any, and every, day your own.

And if you didn’t quite meet expectations this year, just keep this column handy for next year. But read it before Feb. 14.


John A. Winters is a staff writer for The Newnan Times-Herald. You can follow his adventures at . Contact him at .

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