I haven't liked Valentine's Day since 5th grade. Cindy Smith was the girl for me back then. Valentine's was my opportunity to express my vast, undying love for her. I did the best I could to fully describe it in a little hand-written note. To seal the deal, I topped it off with a few sweethearts in the same envelope. She read my note, ate my candy, and then promptly threw the note down the sewer drain.

Although that plan didn't work out the way I wanted it to, that's not why I don't like this day. I don't like Valentine's Day because everything about it seems so forced.

The day is built around teddy bears, chocolates, and Hollywood stories which men can never live up to.  There are the cheesy cards that help basically say nothing, quick dinner dates, and the "love" word gets aimlessly tossed out.

But I think men need this day, and there is one reason why:

Men need deadlines to get them to take action.

For many men, without this "deadline," they would never tell their wife they love her. They would never buy her flowers or take her to dinner. Romantic Hallmark cards would become a thing of the past.

So guys, let's take action.  Let's show and tell our wives how much they mean to us. Here's one way I do:

Years ago I bought this journal for my wife. Frankly, I was tired of searching through Hallmark cards each Valentine's Day and birthday. They never quite seemed to say what I wanted to say, and I got into the habit of simply writing, "I love you" after the script on the card.

This has really become a sweet gift for her each holiday. I typically steal it a few days before the occasion, spend a while writing in it while drinking a cup of coffee, and then present it to her on the special day. I am no longer confined to what the generic card says, but I can now do my own thing.

I like it for a few reasons:

  • It forces me to think about how great my wife is. Sometimes I take it for granted. I am one of those guys that thinks things, but doesn't think to say those same things. If I am going to write anything of substance, then I need to put those thoughts down on paper.
  • It forces me to communicate with her. I know that I am not the best at communicating with my wife. We've even talked about that on dates recently. By writing her a letter, it enables me to open up a little easier.
  • I don't have to scramble at the last minute to go buy a card. I know where she keeps the journal. If I am thinking about Valentine's a few days early, then I can just grab it. I've found it much easier to keep a journal than to remember to go buy a card.
  • With each year that passes, the journal becomes more valuable. Part of my goal as a husband is to model for my kids how to love their spouse. Someday, I hope my kids can look back over my words and get a fuller picture of my love for her.

You can buy journals like this in many places. Here's a list of journals from Barnes & Nobles. Even if you've been married for years, I'd encourage you to start something like this. You and your spouse will both be glad you did.

Women, what other advice would you give men about this day?

For more blog posts like this on leading, following, parenting, fostering, and family, visit Kevin's blog at www.followingtolead.com.