My wife is a total sweetheart. Sitting on my work desk is a litre sized mason jar she prettied up years ago, full of coloured paper slips with things she loves about me and words of encouragement. Above my monitors is a one of the many post it's she's left me over the years, usually when she knows I'm down or overly stressed. I'm surrounded by dozens of things she's bought me, little and large, just because she was out, saw it, and knew it'd make me smile.
She knows I love pens, so didn't hesitate in buying a custom pen with a body made from wood recovered from a really old ship in Isreal.
When I was having one of my many mental health relapses, she came across Tubbz and their special edition Gandalf The White duck1. It had me cry laughing for 10 solid minutes.
Sometimes she just brings me back little treats because she's at Tesco and a little lightbulb goes off saying 'Nick would love that'2.
In return, I try, but one of my least favoured traits is narrow vision.
When I'm out at the shops, my aims are simple: get what I came for, and get in and out in the quickest time possible. No time for dilly dallying. I still think of her, but it's usually part of the game plan, rather than spontaneous, and kind of loses meaning.
When I'm searching around for stuff on Amazon or such like, it's what I'm primarily after that I look for. If I come across something that looks like she might like, I'll save it for later. Only later never comes.3
I'm mindful of when she's down, and make sure to be attentive, but when it occurs to me to write a soppy post it, or leave her a little note somewhere she'd find later like she would me, it's usually when I'm in the middle of something and again, it's a thing to do Later.
My wheelhouse tends to be the typical male practicality. I make sure she's okay when she's having a high pain day. I'll set her up with the dog and the duvet, stick Disney+ on for her, and check that she's ok/not sleeping too long. I'll make sure the house is clean and tidy on days she can't hack it, or skip gym to make sure I'm around when she's down. And I'm always the cook.
Still, there's a pretty sizeable gap. I'm not so self-depreciating that I'd say I'm cold and completely unromantic, nor am I ever going to be perfect, but I can absolutely do better.
For starters, I booked out favourite table and our favourite restaurant a couple of months in advance. Their winter menu will be out, and it gives us a couple of months to save and really splash out, and gives me a couple of months to figure out how to really make it a romantic evening.
Might not be short term, but I'm banking on it being a habit that gets stronger the more I use it. The more I think about the topic, the more I action it, until I finally bring us back to level.4
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Later followed by Saruman the White duck. It got the same reaction, and now both are staring each other down atop my bookshelf.↩
She does pretty much refuse to acknowledge my full name. When we were first dating and she was telling all her friends my name was Nicky, half of them congratulated her on coming out...↩
This is also a money-management thing, but that's a story for another time.↩
And then beyond it. Competition is romantic too, right?↩