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At Depression’s End

October 23, 2011 — 4 Comments

Be You. Some rights reserved by walknboston via Flikr creative commons.“I think I’m ready to try coming off my meds,” she announced, holding my hand tightly.

I smiled as we continued our walk around the lake. “It’s funny you should mention it. I’ve been resisting the urge to suggest the same thing.”

This was in mid-August. I am happy to say that, as of Tuesday, my lovely wife will have been off Paxil for two weeks. It marks the beginning of a new stage of our lives together; one, hopefully, now and forevermore, free of clinical depression.

In February of this year, I posted about her stuggles – actually our struggles – in an article called “Our Valentine’s Day Victory.” To summarize, my heartmate has lived nearly half her life under the dark cloud of clinical depression and has been on anti-depression meds for the past 12 years. However, this year she started to show signs of recovery. I can’t tell you how momentous the progress has been. I had to update our story. Continue Reading…

Poetry in Potato Chips

August 10, 2011 — 1 Comment

May 14th, 2011 was our 28th wedding anniversary. It was also the day that my wife blew me away with the most amazing romantic gesture I have ever received. It had everything an anniversary gesture needs. It was full of thought and planning, it honored the reality of our journey and connection, and it made me feel understood and appreciated. Frankly, it was perfect.

Potato Chip Anniversary Present

A Crispy Metaphor

What did she do? She bought me chips.

I’m not sure if any guys out there can relate, but chocolates generally are not my thing, the only jewelry I wear is my wedding band (not even a watch), clothes & ties are just practical necessities rather than gifts, and flowers… well… just no.

But chips? Chips are me. They are my weakness. I am “savory” to the core. So not only did she get me something I like, she was also inadvertently telling me “You know what? I know you are a little soft around the middle these days, but I’m OK with that. I love you just the way you are.” She was also saying “I don’t care what the rest of the world might think. This gift is about you.” I doubt she was even aware of how the unspoken messages in her gift spoke to me. Continue Reading…

“I’ve been married 19 years and I just found out my husband likes mustard on his sandwiches!” tweeted author Sheila Gregoire. I had to chuckle at that but, inspired by her honesty, I asked my wife “Is there anything like that that I should know about?” Thinking for a moment, she politely replied “Well, you do put too much milk on my cereal.” Hmm… I’ve been flubbing the cereal for 28 years? Who knew!

I realize these are small tweaks in the grand scheme of things, but they are indicative of a romantic paradox verified in a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology (August 2010). According to the authors “Our results indicate that older couples had lower accuracy in predicting each other’s preferences than younger couples even though older couples in our study had spent an average of 40 years longer together.” They go on to describe many possible explanations for the discrepancy, but, to summarize; it basically comes down to an assumption problem. We assume we know too much about our heartmate. Continue Reading…

"Inside a Toolbox" by SiomuzzzI gave a talk at the men’s breakfast at our church this past February and I have to admit I was both encouraged and horrified. I was encouraged because guy friends I thought would just heckle me sincerely participated in a deep discussion about love and romance. On the flip-side, I was horrified because, rather than enabling the guys to honor their wives more effectively, I felt like so many of the guys left the talk feeling shame and guilt. That certainly wasn’t my intent and I’ll have to make sure I tweak any future talks to make that obvious.

So I hope that in introducing the new “show” category to you that you will see it for what it is… not more reasons to feel guilty, but rather a growing tool catalog of new and familiar tools for creating romantic gestures. Rather than writing yet another “101 Romantic Ideas” list, I want to enable you to create your own personalized romantic moments and gifts.

It is my goal to introduce you to various key elements that I have found in my research that can be overlapped to create lavish, out-of-the-ordinary romantic gestures. Some of the tools I plan to write about include:

  • illusion or surprise – more precisely, the unexpected.
  • allusion
  • firsts
  • bests
  • “returning to the scene”
  • taking risks
  • unique /once in a lifetime
  • the opportunity to laugh
  • excitement
  • sentimentality
  • creating a memory
  • themes
  • music
  • fire
  • water
  • location
  • timing
  • clues/contests/scavenger hunts
  • recruiting friends

All of these can be used to embellish traditional romantic gestures or layered deep for special events like Valentine’s Day, birthdays and anniversaries.

So imagine yourself cracking open the latest catalog from your favorite tool store. Here’s hoping that as the “show” category grows, it will fill you with the same inspiration to create wonderful things.

Remember: Safety First!

“You’re on fire.”

“Ah… Thanks hun.”

“No, seriously, your hair!”

We laugh about it now, but I’m not making this up. She’d had a long day at work, so I’d poured a romantic bath for my Lovely complete with romantic candles around the tub. As she sank into the warm water, her long hair bent into one of the flames and caught on fire! Fortunately a quick dip underwater solved the problem before she got hurt, but it has always been a reminder to me to make sure that I try and ensure my romantic gestures are as safe as possible.


Clearly things can go terribly wrong. Consider these hazards:

1. Fire – The fact that there is a State Farm Ad about using candles safely on Valentine’s Day suggests that our near miss is not as rare as you’d hope. Contrary to what Eminem and Rhianna might want you to think, burning the house down isn’t romantic.

2. Water – One of the most horrific romantic-gestures-gone-wrong that I’ve ever heard of involved a planned marriage proposal on the ocean. In 2008, a bride-to-be was swept out to sea by a “sneaker wave” on the Oregon coast.

3. Lightning – A proposal in the beauty of the outdoors went tragically wrong when the bride-to-be was struck by lightning.


Every romantic gesture comes with risks – some emotional, some physical, some you can plan for, some you can’t. Anything you can do to ensure that your romantic gesture is as safe as possible is surely worth the planning.

Question: Have you ever had a near miss during a romantic gesture with your heartmate?