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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, February 13, 2005

You can't put a price tag on love, so why try?

By Michael C. DeMattos

I am not one for the commercialization of holidays, so you will not find me at the mall hunting down the perfect Valentine's Day gift for my wife.

It bothers me that holidays have been reduced to making a buck at the expense of consumers. There will be no chocolates, flowers, or stuffed animals waiting for my wife at work. I believe there are better ways to express one's feelings.

Still, I am a ritualist at heart, so we will celebrate the holiday, I just will not let the corner store tell me what to buy and how much to spend.

It is not that I don't appreciate all that she means to me, and it is not that she is not worth every penny that I could spend on her. The reality is that I do not earn enough money to "show" her how much I care for her.

I am offended when I see commercials that try to tell us how much our loved ones are worth. Is my wife worth a box of chocolates? More than a box; perhaps a freighter full, imported direct from Switzerland. Is she worth a bouquet of flowers? More than a bouquet; perhaps an entire field abloom in spring. Is she worth a diamond? More than a single stone; she merits an entire cave glistening from top to bottom. Is she worth a card? More than a card, and even more than the touching poem found inside. In the end, anything that I could afford would be a sorry surrogate for what she truly deserves. How presumptuous to put a price tag on love.

Still, I am a romantic at heart, but I am not punch drunk when it comes to love. My wife does not complete me. I am not half a man made whole because of her love for me. I may be less the man than I would like to be, and she may see me as more of a man than I actually am, but I am convinced that in our marriage, I am a better man than I have ever been. I am most myself when I am with her, and while it may not always be pretty, it is real.

My wife is not my reason for living, but she does make life sweeter. She shares in my triumphs and tragedies, offers me solace when I am down, and is the only one who can kick me in the rear when I need to get off my rear.

My wife does not make me whole, but she makes wholeness seem possible. Like everyone else on the third rock from the sun, I have flaws. I brought them to my marriage and carry many of them still, but I carry them well, thanks to her.

So here I am, in the same place that I was last year, trying my best to put into words all the feelings that I have tried to give voice to for 364 days; words that should be said each and every day, not because I have to, but because I want to.

I only wish that I might be to her what she has been to me for the last 15 years.

I may never be able to express all that I feel, but perhaps this year, I will find the words, and she will hear them, and she will know my heart. She deserves nothing less than the best I have to offer and that cannot be found in a jeweler's case.

Family therapist Michael C. DeMattos has a master's degree in social work.