I’m sure you’ve seen the newspaper ads, the commercials on TV, the banner ads on the Internet. Everyone wants you to buy diamonds, roses and chocolate for the woman you love, on the day celebrating love. That’s what she wants, right? Or, is it just what the media and advertising tries to convince you she wants.

I can tell you that while I have had my share of dreams involving huge bouquets of red roses, baby blue boxes from Tiffany’s and gourmet chocolates, the gift that really makes me swoon? I’ll tell you at the end of this article.

Studies show that women do love romance, but we define it differently than men. Sure, we all smile at the stories of men who propose on the big screen at the televised NBA game, but we don’t expect that. Heck, a lot of us would be too embarrassed to even enjoy such a large and public display of affection. True romance when experienced between two people reminds a woman of what she really wants to know: that her man has been thinking about her and doesn’t take her for granted. A small and authentic gesture sends a message that says you care. If you search online, you’ll find hundreds of websites and articles full of ways to say “I love you”, so I won’t have to give you examples here.

I will tell you that the old saying “it’s the thought that counts” really is true.  So, think about it! What makes her smile? Is it a love letter, an offer to take the kids to school for a week, a night off from cooking AND cleaning afterwards, or renting her favorite movie and actually sitting down and watching it with her? Does she beg you to spend extra time with the children? Grab the Monopoly game and turn off the TV, cell phone and computer for the evening.  Open up and see what happens. You may be surprised to see a genuine smile on her face.  Speak your truth in ways that others can hear. Studies show that most women believe their men never really “open up”. Unfinished business and words left unsaid build up walls that keep intimacy out. Although your truth may be difficult to say, talk to her from a place of pure love.

Does she tell you often that you don’t take time to listen? Don’t confuse listening and giving advice with listening from your heart. True intimacy begins with listening with an open heart and not from your frame of reference. True intimacy begins with understanding the other person’s frame of reference. It doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with her just because you think she wants you to, it means honoring her and holding her in compassion.

And if you’re wondering who’s telling her what it is you’d like for Valentine’s Day, don’t worry. It’s in every magazine we subscribe to. Oh, and the gift that makes me swoon? Just hearing my man say “I love you” and knowing he means it.

Nan Gray