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How Do You Measure Love?

February 13, 2015

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How do you measure love in your relationship or marriage? What rates big in your book? Is it with the expensive gifts or the quiet celebrations?

I think it's found in the kindnesses shared day to day, but that's just me...what do you think?

Mallowmars and tulips How Do You Measure Love text

Yesterday was my anniversary.

I have been married for twenty one years (this year marks 27 years...) and I got two bushels of tulips and a box of Mallowmars.

I posted a picture of my wedded treasure on the Exquisitely Unremarkable Facebook page and received tons of likes and lovely comments from people wishing us a fabulous day. It was nice.

Then one of my friends asked me, But what are you really doing for your anniversary?


Until she said it, it never dawned on me that there should be more.  

Now, as I revisited the comments, I found myself wondering how many other people were really thinking, That's it?  

She's all excited about fourteen tulips and a box of cookies for twenty one years together?

I know, I'm a cynic.

It's terrible, but after all I'm used to watching grand gestures of love scroll by in my personal feed.

Flowery declarations from husbands to wives and vice versa, photos from sandy destinations both near and far and of course, the big sparkle.

Grand celebrations of adoration for all to see.

In comparison, I'm sure that my grocery store offerings don't seem like much.

Grocery Store Tulips on the kitchen counter in a white pitcher

They don't measure up.

Or do they? I guess the answer depends on how you measure love?

I remember being on the nursery school playground when the talk was about whose husband showed up with a car or giant diamond for some occasion.

Well, they fight a lot, we were told, so this is his way of making up for it.

It was apparently a very common story in my neck of the woods. The argument was that they had a good marriage, because regardless of his behavior the rest of the year, that gift proved that he loved her.


I would just rather have a guy who is nice to me every day, instead of angst filled months punctuated by some annual mea culpa.

I have always told my husband that...even though truth be told, it was never necessary.

Love Banner on a kitchen hood

He's a nice guy.

We met at thirteen at a roller skating rink.

We were just friends, albeit smitten with each other, until we were twenty one.

Over the years, we both dated other people. I went to black tie affairs and stellar restaurants with guys in fancy cars.

I received expensive bouquets, delivered to my office, making all my coworkers swoon...and I was generally very unimpressed.

Yet, sitting on the curb outside my home, on a random Wednesday evening, with my future husband, then just my friend, laughing and tossing pebbles into the street, I could barely catch my breath.

The moon was brighter, the air was clearer and no ballroom could have been more elegant.

When it was time for him to go, however, the magic went with him and I was just alone in my dirty driveway.

Had he left me with some expensive gift, I'm sure I would've been thrilled, but I still would've preferred to have him back with me.

It wasn't gifts that made me love him.

Bride and Groom in the snow

I said yes, to a proposal that did not include a ring. Neither one of us had a dime and after four years of dating and a million years of friendship, we didn't want to wait for a diamond to start our life together.

My mom gave us my grandmother's rings.

They were tiny, dull, worn and, while fashionable in the 1920's and considered vintage today, they were definitely not in style back in the early 90's.

Most of my girlfriends just smiled at me, almost in sympathy. It was not the 1-2 carat Tiffany setting they had.

My rings did not measure up and clearly, I was not marrying very well.

Vintage Wedding Rings

As the years have passed, my husband has presented me with other rings, gorgeous rings for random anniversaries and such.

Never once have I thought of replacing my original bands. They represent our beginning, our commitment.

However, I also wear them all, old and new, with the understanding that they are not us. They don't represent how well I married or what we have together.

They are merely things and no matter how big or small they are, they do not measure our love.

So how do I measure our love?

Well, the fact that my husband gets up every day at the crack of dawn, to go to work to provide for us and keep me home with our kids is love.

The fact that he comes home to me every night is love.

The way he dotes on his children is love, the way warms up my car, makes me dinner on the weekends, rubs my feet when I plop them on his lap every single evening without a groan, that is love.

The way that my husband, who has no interest in flowers, knows that cheap tulips (because they'll all be dead in week anyway) are my favorite is love...

how do you measure love

...and the fact that he stopped at the grocery store on the way home from driving eight hours in one day for a business trip, when I told him in no uncertain terms that I did not need anything for my anniversary, to pick me up a box of Mallowmars ~ "the greatest cookie of all time" according to me and Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally ~ that is love.

And recognizing all of those little things, no matter how unglamorous they may seem to others, is how I measure it.

Well, that and whatever the scale says next week after I finish that entire box of cookies.

Because there's no way I'm sharing.

How do you measure love?

Have you read this one?

are you married if you don't wear your wedding ring

How about this one?

What Other People Think Of You Is None Of Your Business
Kim Signature

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  1. Pay no attention to what others say. You have it right! This post is one awesome Valentine/Anniversary gift to your husband. Show it to him. I only wish my husband would be as thoughtful. He doesn't do flowers. He says if you can't eat it, drink it, or wear it, it's a waste. Well, I don't want or need anything to wear but I sure would love some flowers.

  2. Someone you can comfortably grow old with is what you have my dear!! We married going on 43 years ago...and someone who loves you the way your hubby does is a jewel!! NO matter what anyone else thinks!! I am not into gifts either. I will take the good treatment over any other gift on earth!! I would think most women would, given a choice. What do we have if not relationship and friendship anyway? Passion is good too but when you reach the age that causes a lot less of that...better hope that the friendship, respect and rest of love endures yet!! I think you have it all!! Congratulations and best wishes for a very long life together!! Wow, loved him since age 13...that is something!!

  3. In a fashion very similar to you. Only you said it much more elequently that I could, so I'll leave it there.

    Happy Anniversary! (And I LOVE your grandmother's rings! No Tiffany setting for me!)

  4. Thank you, Nancy! <3 It really is the simple things...

  5. Thank you so much, Elizabeth. What a wonderfully sweet and thoughtful comment. I think I'm a bit misty. 43 years is quite a long time and you're right, without friendship, what is marriage anyway? I wish you and your hubby a wonderful Valentine's Day! :)

  6. Thanks Kathleen! I actually read it to him before I posted to make sure he was ok with me sharing something personal and he said hit publish! He's usually not a flower type of guy, so I buy them for myself! Ha! I buy what's cheap and forgo the cookies! ;) Happy Valentine's Day!

  7. Oh Marcy, you just made me laugh!! I agree 100%! I own no other stones! My husband always wants to buy me a sapphire, but I tell him I'm a simple girl, I only like the clear sparkle of diamonds. ;) Happy Valentine's Day my friend!

  8. You are a lucky lady, Kim, and he is a lucky man, for I'm sure you do just as much to show your love and appreciation for him, too. Yes, it's all those every day doings, routines, even, with which we can measure love, even though yours seems endless.

    Happy Valentine's Day!


  9. Your words are always just right, Poppy. You have a gift. Thank you and Happy Valentine's Day! :)

  10. In April my husband and I will be together 46 years and in September married for 44. After all these years I measure his love by him saying honey do you want another cup of coffee or if he goes to the store and remembers something I said I needed but forgot to get when I went before. After all of these years together I love him more than ever and love spending time with each other. The other things are just that THINGS and they don't mean anything. Enjoy your hubby and Happy Anniversary.

  11. Good evening, Kim! I LOVE YOUR RINGS! Love is something that can't be measured. How do you measure an infinite source of power? We can't. We can only act it out, over and over and the results keep growing better and sweeter, in the middle of chaos and tragedy, abundance and joy. You should see some of the little "nothings" we have exchanged over the years. A day out walking at the beach, a night in with a pot of tea....our best gifts are EACH OTHER. A ring, a bouquet, a box of your favorite treats....that is ALL great. But the greatest of these IS love.

    ENJOY IT ALL! We have a lifetime and beyond to revel in it. Anita

  12. My husband and I have been married for almost 51 years. and we haven't given anniversary gifts to each other since 25 years. On valentine's day he will get me a heart shaped box of candy. But..I also think, just having each other is gift enough. I see too many friends, and just people we know, never have the chance to live together for 50 years. I am happy that we are content with each other, and our life and with are family. Life itself, is a gift...

  13. Kim, I'm perhaps the one person visiiting tonight, who has been married to my sweetheart nearly 48 YEARS! SHHH, let's keep that secret right here. We met when I was 16 and he was 18 and a college Freshman! Oh my goodness it was nearly a year later that we had our first date! That was meant to be! I attended college about 21 miles from his university! We got married while he was in college and I worked, We have fabulous memories of living cheaply. We both worked at NASA part of those years! There are no regrets...We'd choose the same path all over again! We made it w/o borrowing money! We chose love over diamonds, too! Years later he surprised me with one, but our matching wedding bands are dear to both of us! I think you had a great choice and realized it ALMOST at 13 YEARS OLD! WISHING Y'ALL MANY CELEBRATIONS THROUGHOUT THE COMING DECADES! Helen

  14. Bonnie, congratulations, 50 years is long time and I totally agree with you, having each other is a gift. We lost my dad to cancer many, many years ago and while my mother had her gorgeous wedding rings they provided little comfort when he was gone. Thank you so much for leaving such a thoughtful comment and I hope you have a wonderful weekend. :)

  15. Teri, you always have such wonderful words to share. Thank you so much for the comment. I love your "sweet and simple" description...I think it fits us as well. They say that children learn what they live, it sounds like that is the case with your son and his wife. I hope that my kids will have the same kind of relationships. I wish you a Valentine's weekend that is filled with love and that you and your own high school sweetheart enjoy it together! :)

  16. Hello Anita! I love your comment It is pure poetry, as usual. :) I wish you your own fabulous Valentine anniversary weekend with your love and hope it is filled with lots of little "nothings" and each other!

  17. Patty, 46 years, wow! I love reading the comments and hearing about so many people with long, happy partnerships. It seems as if the key is friendship and kindness. Thanks so much for sharing and I wish you both a fabulous Valentine's Day...and every day! :)

  18. A perfect post for Valentine's Day. I know you love those tulips and that great guy who gave them to you. But be careful ... don't eat all those mallomars at one setting. My grandpa used to give us those for Christmas gifts. One year I ate them all in one day ... can't stand em' now! I'm sure you can figure out why. :(
    Keeping up with everyone else, we are married 30 years this May. A good match and a strong relationship this time; the 2nd trip around for both of us.
    Love isn't defined with rings and outsiders' opinions. It's what's inside our hearts that matters. Great post.

  19. What a sweet, sweet post! For our twentieth anniversary, my husband bought us two lawn chairs to carry to the lake to sit and watch the sunset. I thought it was an incredibly romantic gift! I agree, there are all kinds of ways to measure love! Happy anniversary!

  20. Beautiful post. You are truly blessed.

  21. Good morning Kim! YES! Those nothings really do add up to something memorable, don't they! And the same to you sweet friend, may this day forward be a special life. MUCH LOVE! Anita

  22. Amen, sister! A-MEN! My sweet hubby doesn't make a lot of [what might be considered] "grand" gestures... but the things he does for us daily add up to HUGE in my opinion. Also... the man has NEVER EVER had flowers sent to me. He ALWAYS delivers them himself. Gotta love a guy who thinks like that. =) Happy Valentines Day, my friend!

  23. There's something inherently sweet about a guy presenting posies! It's like he's courting you, even after many years! Love it, Sally! Enjoy the day! :)

  24. Thank you Lorri, I really do try to remember that. :) I wish you a lovely weekend!

  25. Lottie, that sounds like THE MOST romantic gift! I bet that is one anniversary you will never forget! Enjoy the day! :)

  26. I laugh Cheryl, because they are a huge favorite in our house, but are only on sale in October. Otherwise they are one pricey box of cookies, so I rarely buy them. That's why I joke that I am not sharing, but they are rich, no doubt about it! (And of course, I do share!) I hope you enjoy the weekend with your hubby!! :)

  27. Helen, there's a great old song by Neil Sedaka, called, "I Miss The Hungry Years". I love that song, because it's so very true. Those first years when we, like you, were living cheaply, were indeed fabulous. We worked together for everything we had/ have and each new "thing" was such a treasure. Of course, now things are much different. Isn't it ironic that now that we can afford the things, they are no longer what we treasure? Thanks so much for sharing your story and I wish you the a lovely Valentine's Weekend!! :)

  28. Hello Gigi! Thanks so much for sharing your story of true love. I am so sorry that you are not well and for what you have lost, but you are truly blessed to have someone who loves you so much and so unconditionally in your life. He sounds like a wonderful blessing. I wish you a fabulous Valentine Weekend and thanks again for the comment! :)

  29. You did an amazing job writing this post. :-)
    And we have a similar story right here at this house.
    We do not measure LOVE on $ and gifts.
    xx oo

    I love your nails. :-) They are so fun.

  30. Thank you so much, Carla. It's a little more personal than I am usually comfortable with sharing, but I guess the holiday brought it out in me! ;)
    Ps...I love my nails, too, thanks! They are Jamberries! My friend sells them and I am hooked!

  31. Hello again,
    I do know what you mean about how personal do we want to share. It can be hard for me too. I am thankful you shared is uplifting to read a True Love story.

  32. Thank you Kim and the same to you.

  33. I'd say your hubby measured love just perfectly. I think our definition of what "measures" love changes over time. While it might consist of hot and heavy breathing early on if we are lucky it evolves to foot rubs as you watch a movie together. I did not get a wedding ring until the day my first daughter was born- a year + a month after we were married. He had ordered initial rings with our last name on them and his father picked them up for us when he was traveling South. I also got his Grandmother's 50th anniversary ring a few years back. My son had a jewelry store for many many years and I used to work there and could buy at cost. So, I have some special pieces but jewelry is just not my thing that screams LOVE.

    Going out at 11pm in a blizzard to pick up cough drops spells love to me- xo Diana

  34. I love it! Big isn't always best, having a great relationship and being able to talk to your best friend is the greatest gift. Well said, Kim.

  35. If I had the words to write as well as you do, I would have written the same thing. We celebrated our 27th anniversary yesterday on Valentine's Day. In the beginning I definitely thought that all the fluffy things were important. I did want flowers and Hallmark cards. Oh brother. As time passed, I grew in my understanding...thank goodness! My sweet husband is knee deep in the biggest most stressful project at work right now but the other day he loudly proclaimed that he would not be working on Valentine's Day because it's our anniversary and we just got over a cancer scare. In that moment all I could think of was that nothing he could buy me would equal that devotion.

    I loved reading your story. Your rings are beautiful. Your home is one of my favorites because you are real in your sharing.

  36. Thank you, Carla. I am glad that I shared this one, too! :)

  37. I hear you loud and clear, Diana! For me, lately, it's when my kids need to be picked up at midnight at a friend's house and it's below zero outside and my husband says that he'll go get them. What could be better than that? ;) xo

  38. Thank you, Jan. I really enjoy decorating and crafting and but writing is my true passion! I am glad you enjoyed the post! :)

  39. Thanks Vanessa! I hope you had a lovely Valentine's Day with your family! :)

  40. Hi Stacey, thank you so much for such a lovely and open comment. I was a little apprehensive about sharing on this level, but I am glad that I did. It seems to have resonated with a lot of people. I am sorry to hear you even mention the word cancer, but I am so relieved that it was only a scare. Phew. In my own life, I have found that those are indeed the moments when what is really important comes screaming to the forefront. Congratulations on your 27 years together, definitely worthy of a celebration! I hope that your Valentine Anniversary was a wonderful! :) xo

  41. This a beautiful sweet post. And amazing...clearly soul mates having met at age thirteen. Blows me away!! :) :) :)

  42. I could hug you for this post.

    He may not have bought you some silly expensive gift, but he took time out of his day because he thought of you and gave you something from his heart. THAT is what matters.

    My guy gave me a stuffed pink monkey with a balloon and grocery store flowers for Valentine's Day. I think the whole thing cost around 20 bucks, but I don't care about that. I care about the reason he did it and that was because the last guy I was with never bought me a damn thing. It came up in conversation once when we first started dating and he remembered. Now do I need or want a pink stuffed monkey? No, but it is now one of my most prized possessions, because besides the fact that it kind of looks like him (lol), every time I look at it, it will remind me that he cared, he wanted me to laugh and he loves me.

    By the way, I think those rings are gorgeous and even more special because of the history :)


  43. You are SO RIGHT!!!!
    Flowers from the grocery store are absolutely the best...especially when presented with a lopsided grin and a hand drawn card :^)
    Marriage with rings that were loved by people YOU loved, makes them all the more special!!
    Cookies ?????? ahhhhhhhh the BEST!!
    Blessings to both of you!

    1. Thanks J!! You are right...those are all the good things! :) Blessing right back to you!

  44. Aww Kim this the sweetest story! Happy anniversary to you and I love how he does so many things for you and your family and even stopped for the cookies for you. Wishing you many more years of happiness together! Julie xo

  45. Thank you, Julie! We're no different than a lot of couples, I'm sure. It really is the little things! :)

  46. This post is such a beautiful tribute to true love,Kim! It is not "things" that define love, but a life lived full of that love is what defines love. You spoke the obvious quite eloquently, and I love it. I would far rather spend time with someone than receive a gift once or twice a year as a token of their love, while the rest of the year I worried if they loved me. No, my dearest shows his love for me in numerous, special, little ways, and those are the moments and things I treasure most. Beautiful truth you have shared!

    1. Thank you so much for such words. I really do feel this way and it's nice to hear that so many others do too. It' s easy to get caught up in the "stuff = love" mentality in this bigger, better, more world. It's nice to know that the simple things still reign! :)

  47. Oh my, this is the sweetest blog post ever!!! It sounds like you and your husband have such a wonderful marriage! Your focus is on each other and that's the way it should be! My hubby is sweet like that, too! May the Lord bless you and keep you!

    1. Thank you so much! What a lovely comment, I appreciate the kind words! We started out as friends...I think that counts for a lot.

  48. I am SO with you!!!!!!!! I am perfectly delighted with my six piece box of chocolates....purchased because they had the picture of a kitty on the front ;^) Blessings, J

    1. Best gift ever, J…because he knows what you like!! And chocolates with kitties on the box? Are you kidding me? Where do you find those sweet ones? Haha!! Enjoy!! Hugs!!

  49. Well this post certain warms the heart! Y'all are too, too cute! Mallomars say love in our home, too, but this year it was two small tubes of white paint, LOL! Happy Belated Valentine's Day, Kim!

    1. It's the greatest cookie in the world!! 😊 Enjoy your paints!! Sounds like you had a perfectly lovely day, too!!

  50. Yes thoughts also. My husband and I just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary on the 9th. I will be honest for the first five or so years of our marriage I was disappointed because my husband didn't give romantic gifts for any occasion. I was hurt and honestly took it as a sign he must not really love me at all. I actually had considered ending the marriage over it. I silly that sounds now but we were so young then and my expectations were what I had seen on my daily soaps. Anyway one day I decided to take inventory on the good and bad things about my marriage. What I realized was I had a husband who worked so hard for myself and our children. He did more on a daily basis than any of my friends husbands or boyfriend's did. Would I really give up such a wonderful man just so I could get some kind of wow presents a couple times a year? I decided no way..... and I decided then that those little babbles that were just for show were no where as important as the daily man who I would spend my life with. So I completely understand what you are saying. I hope you had a fabulous anniversary!

    1. 30th is wonderful, Dena, congratulations! And yes, I think that the stories we grew up on as young women put these ideals in our head and they aren't necessarily the measure of anything meaningful. Give me a stand up guy anytime!!