But I digress.
All a woman has to do is get a card and be companionable. This will work every time and is the only barometer we have.
Back to the task at hand. Here are some things that have worked for me over the years. Early on in the relationship, candy, jewelry, flowers at work, and taking her out to eat will all be fine because the overall balance of power has not shifted to her favor. Once you get into the second or third year,things start to get tricky.
Jewelry still will work but it has to be more expensive now, so make sure you build up the amounts over the years. Start with cute, cheap stuff.
It is the same with going out to eat. I mean, don’t start with fast food, and you can get away with driving farther away but the same money spent not counting gas. The trip is part of the fun, for most girls it’s the journey not the destination.
Once you get into the five to ten year range the destination is now the key. Lets face it there have been a lot of journeys by now and they have all started to run together. Jewelry sill works but might be too expensive by now. An over night stay and a dinner is called for now if you still go that route. Candy is out, (she is watching her weight now and you should know this), Flowers at work are still ok but this is getting a little old.
Here comes the tough part. At 15 plus years it has to be a gesture of your love. I know the L word is hard to face, but its appreciation time — face it: you are hard to live with and most of the time they deserve a little effort on our part. The good side is you don’t feel awkward doing it at this time of year. Now you can appreciate their conspiracy because it makes it easier on us now to help them with their barometer. Wait what! (Don’t try to figure it out guy’s just go with it).
Here’s what might work now; your wedding photo in the paper, with a caption that reads something about the years before and the years to come. Still take her out, but pick out the outfit you want to see her in. Make sure the kids are taken care of without her help. Don’t tell her where you are going, and open all doors for her and wait on her in the house without watching TV, using the computer or smartphone, at least a half hour before the date. Check on her progress but don’t tell her the time.
On the same theme, you can make dinner at home, no kids, set a nice table, have some pictures of your life together running on a digital album that you put together. In my day, this was a mix tape playing in the background. You can also have the old albums stacked on the coffee table to look at with her after dinner. It takes about 15 minutes per album so you might want to glance at them before-hand to have some material ready to talk about.
Now see if you feel like you can pull this off(I never could): Try to recreate your first kiss. We all remember it so don’t act like you don’t. If the place is still there, or if it is out in the middle of nowhere, take her there act nervous and plant it on her like you’re going to be with her forever. This will also work with your wedding proposal. Do not tell her where you are going make her figure it out for herself!
The kiss did not work for me because the spot is not there anymore but during dinner I had all the details of it for us to talk about. She mentioned at work that she liked to watch Dynasty (that should date us a bit). She was sitting across from me on the couch in my first house and got up to go to the bathroom. I, smoothly I might add, sat in her spot, when she sat down beside me, green light.
Don’t worry if any of these things don’t go off without a hitch — the effort is what counts. Now, almost 30 years of cards, candy, flowers, jewelry and going out to eat were nice, but it really is the other days of the year that matter.
Thomas Huber lives in Stanford.