According to love experts, 86 percent of men will buy their Valentine the wrong gift this year. Many of those gift givers will be buying flowers, which, according to these experts, most women don't actually want.
Uh-oh, guys. Uh-oh.
In this house we've moved on from attempts at hints to just flat out stating desires. The subtle hints weren't working so well, but there is no way to mistake "buy me these truffles at this store" for "pink carnations say 'love me forever.'"
Even if you are the flowers type (although I beg you to reconsider carnations), I'm willing to bet that most military spouses could use something a little more lifestyle personalized for Valentine's Day this year. Here are a few ideas.
What real military spouses want for Valentine's Day:
A house cleaner. The tiny little dirt granules transferred from the crevices of combat boots (even if the service member only sits at a desk all day) to the linoleum that lives in every single on-base military house or rental in a military town. The five-day-old stench of dirty green socks -- the socks have been clean for four of those days, but the stench still lingers. The spaghetti sauce that your kid smeared on the standard just-off-white wall in a way that seems to be permanent while you were trying to have a Skype date at the worst possible time of day for you (dinner time), but the only time of day (morning) that your spouse deployed to Afghanistan could talk.
These are the things a house cleaner gets rid of. And nothing says "I love you" quite like your service member paying someone else to clean the toilets.
More coffee. Or tea. Or soda. Or wine. Something has to get us through these long training days, surprise separations and late nights where your spouses is at what definitely seems like a pointless briefing that somehow lasts three hours longer than it was supposed to. Make a statement and give the gift of liquid empowerment, fellas.
A love letter from the military. Don't you wish that sometimes, just sometimes, your husband's bosses and whoever "They" are that decided you should move to the middle of nowhere in California (you know, the part of California that people like to forget about) would send you a little note?
"Hey, we know this was hard and we know this sucked. We really didn't think you'd like it -- we're not that oblivious. But you handled it well and you looked fabulous doing it. X-O-X-O, The Military."
A babysitter. Give the gift of time, space and zen. And by "zen" I absolutely mean "shopping at Target alone." Because that is exactly what I would do if my husband bought me a no-strings-attached, no-errands-to-run, no-therapy-session-to-attend babysitter for a day. Military spouses who have kids want, well, to not have kids for awhile. So, service members, hire your spouse a babysitter and set her free on Target.
Magic uniform cleaning. Uniforms -- the bane of laundry stewards everywhere. We know that just because she (or he) is a military spouse doesn't mean she does the laundry. But we also know that odds are good she does. In this house uniforms have been coming out of the washer somehow smelling like jet fuel. Note: the soldier in question does not touch jets and mostly works at a desk. HOW IS THIS HAPPENING? And don't even get me started on the pens. Troops everywhere could earn big home-points by figuring out a way to make sure their uniforms smell clean AND not ruin anything else (including the inside of the dryer) with pens or rogue Velcro during laundering.
A surprise not on Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day is a nice sentiment. Nicer still -- loving on your spouse other days of the year, too.