It’s The Thought That Counts?

Posted: May 15, 2011 in Love and Marriage
Tags: , , , ,

The old cliché, “It’s the the thought that counts,” is probably the one that I hate the most.  Not all clichés are bad, mind you.  There’s a reason they became popular sayings.  It’s just that this one implies letting people off the hook when they don’t care enough to follow through, or they don’t know a person well enough to know what an appropriate response or gift would be.

Toward the end of July, my wife asked me if there was anything I wanted for my birthday.  This is significant on a number of levels  (I realize that this is in no way chronological and is probably going to confuse some of you, but we’re on the subject of birthdays, so I decide to write about this today.  Keep reading and focus on the big picture).  We weren’t living together and things had been looking like they were going to end badly for a while. 

I had wondered for a few weeks if she would acknowledge my upcoming birthday and I had decided that I wouldn’t bring it up.  If she never said anything about it, I wasn’t going to either.  If she did, however (and here was the twist), I was prepared. 

Most years of our marriage, I really didn’t have anything I wanted for my birthday.  She would ask what I wanted and I would tell her that there really wasn’t anything.  Last year was different.  There was something I was going to ask for if she asked.  It was very personal and for me, it would be a sign as to whether or not our marriage was going to make it. 

So she asked, one day in the car, out of the blue.  So suddenly, in fact, that I almost chickened out and didn’t say what I had planned to say when or if the question came.  But I pulled myself together and told her that yes, in fact, there was something I wanted.  And then I took a risk.  I told her what I wanted, knowing that whether or not she did it would probably parallel whether or not she would ever return to being my wife. 

You see, years earlier, she had bought me an expensive men’s fragrance from Mary Kay.  It was the only time I ever had anything like that, and it was special to both of us.  The last time we had moved, it had become one of those things that disappears in a move, and was never seen again.

Since then, whenever we would walk past a certain store in the mall, there was a fragrance that you could smell and she would comment about.  I told her that what I wanted was for her to shop for a fragrance for me that she really liked and that she would want to smell on me.  This was a risk because it implied a future in which we would be together.  It implied us going on dates, being romantic and intimate.  More than that, it implied her having a stake in a relationship with me.

One popular saying that does carry a lot of truth with it is the one that says, “Your thoughts become your actions.” I knew that if I could get her thinking along these lines, there was a lot better chance that actions would follow.  I also knew that, contrary to popular wisdom, the actions of love produce the feelings of love, not vice versa.  She was telling me that she wasn’t feeling the feelings, but I had learned that doing the actions produces the feelings.  I realized that if she would really think about it and take the time to shop, this had the potential to produce feelings. 

Yes, I skipped a lot in the story, and yes, I am going to go back and fill in the blanks.  And yes, last year I had the happiest birthday of my life.

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