I Heart My Grouchy Valentine- Take 2

Romance Done Grouchy Style


Last year, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I shared how I met and fell in love with my grouchy husband.  This year, as the “most romantic day of the year” approaches, I’m compelled to share my recollections of  what most women regard as the most romantic day of their life.

An exotic vacation, a moonlit carriage ride, or perhaps a room carpeted in rose pedals; all great ingredients for a fairytale proposal. Too bad my husband never read a fairytale in his life. Who has time to read Cinderella when you’re busy spending your childhood planning for retirement?

From our very first date, I knew Dave wasn’t the romantic type. We met in college and even then, he was practical to the core without a spontaneous bone in his body. He was majoring in economics, treasurer of his fraternity, and the only frat guy ever to own a vacuum cleaner and use it. Soon after we began dating, my friends and I nicknamed my future husband Grouchy Dave and determined he was a 90-year-old man trapped in a 20-year-old body. I slowly found myself falling in love with this quirky, grumpy, person who was my polar opposite in every respect.

We dated for five years and came to the point where it was time to get engaged or move on.  My lease was going to be up and I declared that I wouldn’t move in with Dave unless we were engaged. I admit I was young, stupid, and believed an ultimatum was a great foundation to build a marriage upon. I knew Dave was going to propose because he ever so subtly…..

  1. Created a chicken scratch drawing of two engagement rings and said, “Out of these two rings, which one would you pick?”
  2. One night he looked at me and said, “You’re gonna say yes when I ask you to marry me right? Otherwise I’m not going to buy the ring.”
  3. It was the weekend before my lease was up and Dave knew I would be pretty pissed if I had nowhere to live.

So, on July 3, 1998, I drove over to Dave’s place knowing full well I was about to get engaged. Here’s how the romantic event unfolded:


Dave opened the door to his condo and said, “I got you a box of chocolates to celebrate the 4th of July.”

Oh yes of course, I thought, the traditional 2 pound box of 4th of July assorted candies. Okay, my ring is obviously in the box of chocolates, but there’s no way in hell Dave would have actually dug out caramel nugget and hidden my ring inside a truffle. That would have been way too messy, wasted a perfectly expensive piece of candy, and run the risk of me choking on an even more expensive ring. Dave wouldn’t want his proposal to end with a trip to the emergency room. Alright, I’ve gotta channel my inner thespian and pretend to be surprised.

I thanked Dave for the candy and opened the box. There, nestled between a Fannie May milk chocolate butter cream and a chewy caramel, sat a tiny black box. With my best fake surprised expression, I gasped and looked at Dave. He didn’t get down on one knee, but he did pop the proverbial question. I said yes, opened the small velvet box, and stared at a beautiful diamond ring (this time I didn’t have to act).

We’ve been married now for over 16 years and I still wish I had a better engagement story to share. When our friends retell their memories of proposing underwater while scuba diving, or getting engaged at the top of the Eifel Tower in Paris, I re-discover how boring, predictable, and dull our engagement was. Come to think of it, so is our marriage sometimes! Except for when it’s not. Like when my husband breaks into hilarious dances to cheer up one of our kids. Or when Dave brings home flowers for no reason at all (except maybe that the flowers were on sale).

We’re not always boring. Here we are singing karaoke at the 40th birthday party Dave planned for me.

My engagement may have been a disappointment, but our marriage has been anything but. My husband is not the spur-of-the-moment type of man. His idea of impulsivity is buying an extra carton of eggs at the grocery store when they’re on sale. Yet, he has stood by my side through our toughest challenges. Do we have a perfect marriage? Of course not. Do I wish my husband was more of a free-spirit, capable of planning an over-the-top, unexpected proposal that would have swept me off my feet? Sure I do. Yet, I’ve learned life can sometimes swipe you off your feet and bring you to your knees (and not in a good way). When it does, I know that together, the grouchy love of my life and I will cautiously navigate our way back to our beautifully boring life. To me, that boring life is worth more than romance.




  1. So glad I’m not the only one who feels this way- my husband has ideas to be spontaneous but they involve renting a limo, taking me to the most expensive restaurant in town, etc. All of which will never happen on our budget.
    So I deal with when he wants to go on a date I tell him to find a babysitter- full well knowing the day before that I’ll have to find one for us. 🙂
    But it’s okay- I love him, I love his quirks, and I love that for some reason he really loves me


  2. What a wonderful story….no, not a story….rather a true to life LOVE STORY!!!! When push comes to shove….engagement “stories” don’t often end in wonderful marriages…..but, look at the two of you!! You have certainly had enough “downs” to out way the proverbial “ups” but you are still together….happy (I know that’s a silly word because no one really knows what happiness entails… it differs from person to person)….raised a family despite all that life has thrown at you. He….even tho it’s boring to most of us….has planned for your future TOGETHER…..makes you a surprise party …..etc. etc.etc.! It sounds so dreamlike to me to be married to a great guy like that. How blessed you are……I wish I could have found a “grouchy” guy like that!!! If you really really think about it….your engagement surprise was the best ever because you DID get a rare jewel…..someone who loves and adores you and will be with you through thick and thin. HAPPY SWEETHEART’S TO YOU BOTH!!!! (You should buy HIM some flowers this year…..)


  3. Speaking as a Friend Of David, I have to take issue with a few minor points you raise:
    1) David is not your polar opposite in every respect. I mean, he’s not TALL, is he?
    2) There are those of us, F.O.D.s and other enlightened men, who were raised to believe that marriage is a union of equals and as such should not require, even at its inception, one party bow down before the other and assume a subservient posture. At least that’s reason I gave Pam when I didn’t kneel to propose to her.
    3) Boring, predictable and dull are ideal ways of describing airlight flights, weekly status meetings and strong marriages that can stand up to the sort of challenges that swamp many marriages but which the two of you simply chuckle over now.
    In sum, yes he’s grouchy, but he’s also a good guy and I think you should keep him (maybe I’m still writing to Pam, here…).


  4. And I thought George did not use the most romantic way to pop the question! I came home for the weekend from school and he was sitting on my bed chatting with me while I unpacked. I turned away and when I turned back, there was a beautiful diamond ring sitting on top of my clothes. I knew it hadn’t been there before and George had the biggest grin on his face. Of course the answer was, “Yes!”. How could it not be? Especially since I had told my mother after our first date that I was going to marry him as soon as I finished school. She just laughed! But I did and I didn’t even have a lease to worry about!
    You always hit the nail on the head. And, while Dave may be a “grouch”, we all know how much he loves you. You are both lucky to have each other. Long may you be together!😘


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