Do Flowers Really Mean Anything To You?

by Niki on July 7, 2011

roses flowers 3 month anniversary divorceDuring the 24 months we were together, my ex probably bought me flowers at least 50 times. He’d buy flowers for special events, anniversaries, or for no reason at all – just to surprise me. The first time he bought me flowers was within our first week of dating, and he continued to give them to me throughout the entirety of our relationship. It was one of the things I liked about him – because I thought the flowers really meant something about our relationship. I thought the flowers were a visible symbol of a deeper commitment.

There is a couple I am good friends with, and the wife used to joke about her “flower jealousy” because her husband of 30 years never gave her flowers, at all, ever. I used to tease the husband about their lack of flowers, and I naively enjoyed the love and affection I thought my flowers represented.

But here’s the thing I’ve come to realize during the past month. That couple that never gives flowers – they have stayed together for 30 years and they are very happy together. They’ve raised two kids, they’ve survived work and family challenges, and they are 100% committed to their relationship. They have healthy and open communication and they just decided to move across the world together to share a new life adventure.

My ex – who bought me flowers all the time – abandoned me to date a secretary in his office. I now know he bought me flowers while he was already dating her. And I know he was buying her flowers before I had even moved out of our house.

I have now revised my opinion about flowers. Flowers cost $10 or $20 at the checkout line at the grocery store. Buying flowers is really not all that different from buying a pack of gum. Flowers are not personal, or unique, and they require absolutely no personal investment at all. Flowers are simply an impersonal generic gesture anyone can make. They require no follow through and no sincerity. Flowers require absolutely no emotional commitment, they just require a quick trip through the grocery line. With five minutes and fifteen dollars, you too can give someone flowers.

I used to think the flowers meant my ex was thinking about me and he was visibly showing me he loved me. Now I realize he was just going through the motions of what he thought he was supposed to do in a relationship. Flowers were part of the fake. He didn’t know what kind of gift would be unique or specific to my tastes, and he probably just never thought beyond flowers. Buy flowers, check the box, and move on, nothing more required.

As I look in the rear view mirror of this relationship, I regret I assigned very much value to the flowers. I regret I gloated to my friends about how thoughtful he was. I regret I was susceptible to the fake. I mistakenly believed the flowers meant something to him.

Now I know clearly that what matters more than flowers is what happens in between the flowers, in between the anniversaries and the special occasions. What matters more in a relationship is the emotional commitment that cannot be bought at any grocery store. What matters more than flowers is sincerity and integrity. What matters more than flowers are the daily actions and follow through that demonstrate a genuine commitment to and investment in a mature relationship.

Over the course of our relationship, I had dried and saved several boxes of roses. I left them all in the house when I moved out last weekend. As I move forward with my life I know with certainty I will be looking for something more substantial and more meaningful than generic roses that cost $10 at the grocery store.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Marla Jirak March 27, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I get occasional flowers, but what means more to me is the hundreds of cards I have received from my husband. Even more important were the thoughtful letters he wrote while he still had his job as a Captain and away for 2.5 months at sea. He would choose certain sentimental words and spend his day composing the letters he sent me. I love the depth of feeling and love in those letters. When he retired, I felt something was missing and thought it was the adjustment of living with him for 365 days a year instead of the on again off again 2.5 months rotation. I soon discovered that the missing piece was the letters and his profound words of love and kindness. His shyness does not always allow the words to flow to me in person, but the letters were sincere and captured on paper. Whenever we have days of frustration and anger with each other I go to the large basket where I keep the letters and cards and start to read and I soon find myself remembering the man I am in love with. Flowers, dried petals can never leave that kind of evidence of love. Written words can and do leave an impact that will always be able to be retrieved.

Niki March 28, 2012 at 8:08 am

Hi Marla,
What a beautiful image – all those hundreds of cards from your husband. That is truly a unique and loving gift and how wonderful that you can easily revisit that basket of words. I’m inspired by this story — thank you for sharing it.
== niki

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