Last week Jennifer asked me what I had written my column about. When I told her, she said, “Oh I thought maybe you had written about Valentine’s Day”. In my head my response was; “Valentine’s Day, it is Valentine’s Day already, it sure seems early this year? “ But I knew better and my actual response was, “I am saving that column topic for this week.” Then I am not sure, but I think I might have heard her say something under her breath about forgetting Valentine’s Day.
I admit it; I am not very good at this whole Valentine’s Day, romantic, and being creative thing. I think after almost 19 years Jennifer has resigned herself to that fact also, but I do think she holds on to a slim hope that I may change yet. It’s about as likely as winning the Powerball Lottery. However, when I talk to my fellow farmers and ranchers I realize that I am not all that different from most of my peer group.
I could blame it on the stresses of the farm, the time of the year, a bump to the head or genetics but those would all fall short of the real reason. Those of us guys who farm and ranch for a living are so gosh darn romantic that our wives become immune to all of the romance around them each and every day. We simply ooze romance without even trying. Being romantic is like our super power.
Let me give you an example. Almost every night is a romantic getaway out here on the farm. Each evening Jennifer comes home (well, the one or two nights a week that the kids don’t have an activity) to a quiet, secluded location a place those living in the city can only dream about. Our house is surrounded by the panoramic beauty of the Flint Hills. She comes home to see baby calves and lambs frolicking in the barns around the house (and after all nothing is more romantic than baby calves and baby lambs).
Often we have a gourmet meal consisting of locally (really, really local) raised beef or lamb (only the finest for us and Jennifer is such a good cook). We eat enjoying each other’s company in a dimly lit dining room (the teenagers who eat with us seldom offer much conversation and I have got to get the lights fixed). After dinner she relaxes (after starting a couple of loads of laundry and folding even more clothes) by the warmth of the wood stove while I wash dishes (it is one of my assigned chores). Often we simply enjoy each other’s company in silence (the kids are working on their homework and often one or both of us are asleep in front of the TV).
Then later in the evening, I gently wake Jennifer. Most people would simply go to bed, but not this romantic farmer. I invite Jennifer for a romantic moonlit walk (out to check the lambing barn) dressed in her best evening wear (chore clothes). Have you ever wondered why there has never been a farmer or rancher on the Bachelor? I am sure it is because of nights like this. He would set the bar too high and the show would not be able to carry on.
It really is a burden being this romantic; when I was single I really had to be careful about when I turned my charm on. Take our first date for instance. We were a blind date and I wanted to be careful and not get her hopes up too much until I knew she was the one. I acquired two free tickets to a Baxter Black concert and took her out for drinks (soda) at Denny’s. Even at that my romantic super powers seeped out and she was hooked for life.
OK, OK, it is time to come clean. I guess our first date should have been insight enough for Jennifer. In reality it took a whole lot of begging and pleading to get the second date and I am pretty sure it was a pity date. After that I really can’t explain why she picked me, other than I was really lucky, she had a lapse in judgment and I married way, way out of my league.
I have also had some really good marriage advice over the years but none of it better than the sage words of my friend Greg (I am going to not give out his last name to protect his well-being). “The secret to a good marriage is the ability to look your wife in the eye and say; I am male, therefore I am wrong and I am sorry.” Those words and a comfortable couch are a good start to a long lasting marriage. However, finding a loving, understanding patient wife is the real secret to a good marriage for any farmer or rancher.