Sunday, February 14, 2010

How NOT to write a Valentine's Day Love Letter for your spouse

Let me start this post by saying I love my husband and I appreciate our relationship. When it comes to candy-ass and cheesy Valentine's Day celebrations, cheap carnations, red candies and Hallmark cards are lost on me. Jeff has known from the very beginning of our marriage that I prefer a heartfelt love letter over a prefabricated sentiment from a store. Anyone can buy a card, it takes a special effort to create something personal.

A few years ago, we were gearing up for the whole fertility game and any extra funds we had were being spent on treatments, tests and injections. It seemed prudent to not spend money on bogus holiday and valentine gifts, so I requested an affirmation of our commitment to each other. After all, Jeff is a writer for crissakes. I knew his written words for me would be more powerful than anything he could purchase. A love letter is forever.

As I read the amazing Valentine's day love letter of 2005, I was really proud of Jeff- both as the author and my man. He shared his feelings on paper which is not easily done. I am always trying to pry compliments from him, so getting a list of his praise and affection was something to treasure. Anytime Jeff pissed me off, left a trail of empty diet coke cans laying around, or was out of town, I re-read his magical Valentine's Day letter and felt instantly better. I could use that letter to change my mood, it was that good.

In March of 2005, just a few weeks after Valentine's day, Jeff and I were asked to sit on a panel of couples in a group counseling session. Our therapist friend was hosting a series of meetings for engaged couples and he asked us to participate and share some of our wisdom. He respected our sense of communication and knew that we could bring some humor to the panel. He just did not know how much humor. Gah!

During the hour long discussion, I mentioned that I needed to hear how much Jeff cared for me, and I needed to be reassured with compliments on a frequent basis. One of the differences between us is that Jeff assumes his last mention of love or praise is still valid until he says otherwise. He believed that if he said I love you 6 months ago, that I love you was still effective since he did not change his statement. I, on the other hand, assumed that if he had not said anything in 6 months he must be falling out of love or did not care. When we were newlyweds we addressed this polar opposite value system and we understood our differences. I wanted to make sure the couples in the audience heard us, since this was a breakthrough for us as a couple. Thankfully we discovered this very early in our marriage.

After we shared our insight I told the group about my tender and meaningful love letter written just weeks before. I was bragging a little, but I knew that some of the men would take note and realize how much it meant to me, and perhaps they might try the same thing. I was full on into tooting Jeff's horn when Jeff said, "Yeah, Jeremy did a good job on that one, remind to thank him." I laughed and replied, "Ha ha ha, you are hilarious- and I turned to the room full of couples and told them that Jeremy was Jeff's college intern at the office. My husband, said, "No, no really- thank Jeremy." As my mouth dropped to the floor, and I realized Jeff was being serious, our therapist pal quickly changed the topic and we finished the evening. I am not sure anyone realized I had been blindsided.

As we got into the car, I found out that Jeff asked Jeremy write the rough draft of my love letter. Jeff had this poor college kid writing a personal love letter to me so that he could just revise it and make it his own. In Jeff's exact words, he told Jeremy to get him going on the task and that he would "punch it up himself afterwards." I was beyond pissed off and Jeff knew he crossed the line. Jeff promised me he would not use a ghost writer for future valentines or any messages regarding our relationship.

The next day at the office I took Jeremy aside and thanked him for writing such a nice letter. He was so embarrassed, and confessed that of all the college writing assignments he had been given, that was the most difficult one. I joked with Jeremy about it and he said, "I was so nervous about writing that letter, I sat at the computer screen at the office worrying that someone would look over my shoulder and think I was really sending my boss's wife a love letter. I deleted the Dear Helene part so that if anyone found it on the computer they would not think I was hot for you."

OH-MY-GAWD, that poor kid, can you imagine?

Oh sure, Jeff and I joke about it now, but can you believe that shit? Now I get a real, bonafide, Jeff Slutsky original love letter every year on Valentine's Day. It has become a tradition. This year I received my heartfelt note and fell in love with Jeff all over again.

I returned the favor this year too, only I kept it short and sweet. I know Jeff's hot buttons so I put a cold diet coke can on the night stand, and tacked the following message to the bedroom door last night.

I love you
I am naked
Do me.

How NOT to write a love letter by Helene and Jeff Slutsky. Be warned. Be Mine. Happy Valentine's Day!

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