"Big Four" Highlights


Prepare Your Hearts

6 steps to avoid a Valentine’s Day ‘massacre’

by Brian Caulfield, FFG Editor

With its emphasis on love, relationships, feelings and flowers, St. Valentine’s Day can shoot panic through a man’s heart. What to get her — wife, fiancée, girlfriend, serious crush? How to make plans that she will enjoy? What will make her happy on this day when the focus is primarily on the gal and the obligation on the guy? With all the things that can go wrong, all the ways that gifts and gestures may be misunderstood or poorly presented, men can feel that they are walking into a St. Valentine’s Day massacre.

Let not your heart be troubled. As a married man with more than two decades of Valentine’s Day successes and failures, I offer this advice for a better February 14:

Remember the saint. We shouldn’t forget that Valentine’s Day takes its name from a third-century martyr who, according to tradition, defended the dignity of Christian marriage in a pagan age. St. Valentine’s feast may no longer be on the Church’s universal calendar, but he still has universal appeal. In our own secular age, when the very definition of marriage is under attack, we should invoke his intercession for our own marriages to be strengthened and for all who are married or preparing for marriage.

Say it with prayer. If you do not already have a practice of praying with your wife or beloved, now is a good time to start. Ask her if she would like to pray with you for guidance in your relationship, whether you are married, engaged or dating. You don’t need to recite a whole rosary, though that would be ideal. A simple aspiration or petition will do: “Lord, please guide us with your grace and wisdom as we seek your will in our relationship. Sanctify our desires, heal our wounds, enlighten our hearts and minds.” Married couples should add: “Help us to renew in thought, word and deed our vow to become one flesh in your sacrament.” Then, make it a habit, and pray together regularly.

Flower power. Ask a week or two ahead of time (with an innocent wink or smile) if she has a favorite colored rose or other favorite flowers. It will build anticipation and show that you have a plan. Then, don’t procrastinate. The first time I ventured out for roses for my beloved, I found that every beautiful bouquet in the local florist shop had been reserved for some other lucky guy. Order your bouquet in advance, and make any dinner reservations while you’re at it — lest you be left standing outside a restaurant with a potted plant.

Write on. Nothing reveals your true self like a handwritten card. If you’re not able to craft a homemade card, buy one that captures your thought and feeling, and add your own heartfelt words. Even long-married men like me should take the time to pick up a pen and recapture the thrill of that first Valentine card. She will not get tired of reading your words.

Think big. This is a day for extravagance, not restraint. Make reservations at her favorite restaurant. Bring her favorite coffee to her place of work. Leave little chocolate gifts where she will find them throughout the day. Show her that you know her heart and value it above your budget.

Give from the heart (of Jesus). However you plan, whatever you do, ask the Lord to fill you and your relationship with his own love. Even if you don’t get exactly what she wants, at least you will have your heart and hers in the right place.