July 31, 2013

When Love Looks Like Sixty Cents

I counted my change last night. After I scoured the living room floor and the bottom of my purse, I had $2.27 in quarters, nickels, and pennies. I also had an overpowering craving for a cinnamon roll.

My husband is well-acquainted with my frequent compulsions for milkshakes and cookie dough and chocolate and the like. He sweetly gave in and agreed to drive down the road with me in search of cinnamon rolls.
I found them— a perfect can of Pillsbury refrigerated cinnamon rolls, with the Cinnabon trademark and the much-too-small cup of icing included. There was no price listed anywhere near them on the store shelf, but why would cinnamon rolls cost more than two dollars? I proceeded to check out.

They rang up at $2.85. I was just about sixty cents short. Without hesitation, Steven reached into his wallet, scrounged for his own spare change, and supplied the difference.

Maybe I’m being a little sentimental. I’m not going to mask it, though. Times have been hard financially, emotionally, health-wise, and even in our marriage. It’s been a rough few months.

So when he handed the cashier his own change to buy cinnamon rolls that he didn’t even want, he may as well have handed me a dozen roses. Or to put it into my love language, he may as well have handed me a dozen peach milkshakes, a chocolate bar, and a good book. I was touched.

We’re in our third year of marriage. This amount of time is awkward. It is short enough that we are still in the phase of “the struggling young couple just trying to get by.” It is long enough that we take each other for granted. But I think I’m starting to see what couples who’ve been together for decades knew all along:

It doesn’t take impressive acts to keep romance alive. Love is expressed when you give up your last sixty cents without a second thought. Sometimes the power of the gift goes unnoticed because it comes so naturally to give to the person you love. You don’t even consider it a gift because that person is part of your own self. But that is exactly what makes it so much more significant.

There was a time not too long ago when his gifts were sushi dinners, days out-of-town, expensive boxes of fancy fudge paired with Starbucks. These days, he gives a milkshake here and there, tolerates giggles and messes while I slumber party with nieces, and pumps gasoline for me because I hate doing it. I prefer this quiet love to the gift-showering shown in movies and occasionally seen in our courtship. I want the love of a man who gives me his spare change as if he were simply spending it on himself, rather than one who expects to be recognized for grand gestures.

We have a little saying with which we’ve teased one another since our dating days. It's been altered to express love and thanks in many different scenarios between us. It goes something like this:

I love you, Steven. Not because you gave me sixty cents to buy cinnamon rolls.
But that has a lot to do with it. :)