The three little words every woman wants to hear. “I love you,” right? Deep down, the three little words I want to hear are, “I get you.” Followed closely, perhaps, by, “And I love you anyway.

My husband gets me. He gets my jokes, he gets my quirks, he gets my pet peeves, he gets my apprehensions, he gets my faults, and he gets my love. I know how very much he understands me by how expertly he speaks my love language and navigates my moods. He does little things that mean so much to me, like starting my car on cold mornings (and remembering to turn on the seat warmer), turning on my heated mattress cover about an hour before we go to bed, and bringing a blanket and covering me up as we watch our favorite TV program on the loveseat. Apparently, he gets that I’m always cold.

And sometimes, he will gift me with something so perfect that I know he not only gets me, but accepts me. On our 15th wedding anniversary, he gifted me with a beautiful stained glass window, which I proudly hung in the middle of our big picture window in the front of our house. He has never understood or shared my passion for all things antique, but he bought it for me anyway, and I love it.

This year, for Valentine’s Day, he had a beautiful bouquet delivered to my office. Roses? Not for this chick. He chose a gorgeous and unique bouquet of red tulips and purple irises — two of my favorite flowers. I’ve never been one for roses. Sure, they are beautiful, but they are, in my opinion, ordinary and cliche — two things I like to think I am not.

Also, I’m sure he remembered a story I told him long ago. The summer after I graduated high school, I worked at Hill’s Roses in Richmond, IN (a city nicknamed, “The Rose City.”) Growing up, our town celebrated the annual “Rose Festival,” and not far from my home were acres of greenhouses where the flowers were grown. At Hill’s, I worked in a room where we assembled rose bouquets for 8 – 10 hours a day, 5 days a week.

Though Bret Michaels so beautifully sings, “every rose has its thorn,” every rose actually has many thorns and every day after work, my hands felt like pin cushions. Even though I would often wear gloves, they were little match for those pesky little pricks of pain. I loved the days we were instead putting together bouquets of other, less spiteful flowers, but they were few and far between. Most days, my hands were raw, chapped, swollen, and sore.

By the end of that summer, I had decided that if I never saw another rose again, it would be fine with me! I shared that story with my husband one time when we were only dating, and apparently, he remembered.

But why tulips and irises?

I love tulips — mostly, because in the central Indiana area, they are one of the first signs of spring. Every year, after a long, dark, cold, snowy winter, the first tulips are a beautiful sight to behold. When the tulips emerge from the cold soil, Hoosiers know the days will be getting longer, warmer, and less miserable. I love tulips and always have.

Why red? Romance, I’m sure.

The irises — I saved them for last because they are the most special to me. Irises are my favorite of all the flowers. I love how beautiful and delicate-looking they are, yet they stand tall — bold, and strong. Also, my paternal grandmother was named Iris, so they remind me of her. She passed away from multiple sclerosis when I was very young, so my memories of her are few. But I need only to know how very much her children loved her to know what an incredible woman she was. Irises remind me of her and how I imagine her to have been — beautifully delicate, yet bold and strong.

I have had iris bulbs in our backyard for many years now. Some of the bulbs were a gift from a friend at church and some were from my mother-in-law. There are probably about 3 dozen bulbs back there and every year, I watch eagerly as the green shoots emerge from the ground. And every year, I may have one or two actually bloom. It’s an annual frustration. I have moved them, divided them, mulched them, fertilized them, prayed over them — but I’ve just never had much luck with gardening.

But this year, thanks to my husband, my Valentine, my love — I am enjoying some beautiful irises.

Keep your roses. I’m quite happy with my unique and profoundly meaningful bouquet, gifted to me by the one who gets me. And loves me anyway.

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