x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Love is a well-chosen Valentine's gift

Nothing tells me he cares as much as a surprise gift.

So what if I am shallow enough to insist that it is gifts, and not thoughtful little daily gestures, that prove to me Mr T cares? Sure, I like the daily Post-it notes he leaves in various places - wrapped around my toothbrush, tucked into my wallet, under my car's windscreen wipers - for me to find when I wake up in the morning. I look forward to his daily morning call. I love the bouquets he comes home with.

But nothing tells me he cares as much as a surprise gift.

On our second date, I opened the car door and a small camel, wearing a swanky pair of sunglasses, was waiting for me on the passenger seat.

"I picked him up as a welcome-to-the-UAE gift for you, you were on my mind when I was in Dubai last week," he said.

Our second month of dating, he showed up at the end of a long day with a fluffy red pillow emblazoned with "love you loads" and cut-out hearts - a gift I would have puked all over in another life. It is in pride of place right now, in our home office.

My favourite present from him? Perhaps a tacky pair of ceramic imitation shells that each holds a tea-candle.

It's not the same when he scrambles for his credit card as I point to something in a shop window. A gift chosen without my input says, "I know you and I know what makes you happy."

For all those reasons, Valentine's Day, which I have spent most of my life viewing with varying degrees of apprehension and distaste, has suddenly become the perfect marriage booster.

On our first V-Day, I stupidly made a big deal of not buying into the contrived cliché of mid-February's day of romance. On our second, we were in Paris, celebrating honeymoon number two, which he thought would be enough of an event not to require further displays of affection. So, year two sans flowers and gifts.

This time around, I've launched a month-long campaign. No longer having to rely on vague hints is a great bonus to being married; I can just make outright demands instead.

Valentine's is a great excuse to indulge in a little bit of romance. It's not about rekindling love - love is always there. But love is not always expressed with that first dusting of magic when life gets in the way.

Isn't being taken for granted akin to a death sentence in a marriage? And by showing someone who already knows you love him or her that you are up for the challenge of proving that love, that you are energised about it enough to bother creating a new memory or experience - isn't that the greatest show of love?

Which is why I've made it abundantly clear to my Mr T that I am a firm believer in the importance of V-Day for a married couple. We have to make the most of it, syrupy displays of cupids and flowers and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and all.

However, I do draw the line at stuffed animals. A woman has her dignity to uphold.