Valentine’s Day is sneaking up on us faster than a Winter Olympics speed skater. A piece of advice – don’t wait until the last minute to acknowledge Valentine’s Day, and have to stop by your local convenience mart on the way home for a Nutter Butter and a plastic rose unless you want your ‘noble’ efforts to be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Don’t be that guy!
Seriously, Valentine’s Day is more than roses, chocolates, and romantic cards. We are told it’s all about romance, but actually, it’s more about real love, that is, doing something special for someone else. We’re talking attitude, humility and relationship and doing something out of the ordinary for your soulmate. And that friends, is romantic. But if you really need to see what NOT to do, check out my book, Culture Jock (One Foot in The World, One Foot in The Church). You’ll get a blow-by-blow account of decidedly anything-but-romantic mistakes I made in my decades-long marriage; selfish pursuits that damaged our relationship.
For example, I chronicle my journey through 22 radio stations in 43 years, which by the way, could be eligible for the Guinness World Record for most moves by a family of four during the 80s and 90s. LOL And most of those employers were in different markets – Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Miami, and Denver to name a few. And each city required a challenging long-distance haul. But whether you’ve moved around a lot, or stayed put most of your life, doing something special for that someone special without expecting anything in return adds up to a large deposit in your love-bank.
Here are a few examples of things to do that will make your teeth sparkle when you smile. Guys, we like to thump our chests because we take out the trash, turn off the lights, or check to see that the doors are locked before we go to bed. Big whoop. Oh, what we do is important, but is it romantic? “Hey honey, I took out the trash. Want to snuggle??” It’s going to take a little more than that, buddy.
In addition to shaking out a new, scented trash bag for the kitchen, consider cooking dinner – not necessarily on Valentine’s Day because maybe you want to go out for a one-on-one dinner at a nice restaurant. You know, one where you’re not shouting your order through a rolled down window in your car. Now, after cooking dinner, do the dishes too! (And don’t complain!) Be a servant and don’t loudly and proudly proclaim everything you do. Just do it. She’ll notice. I promise.
You can also do the vacuuming, or my favorite chore to ignore… dusting. Ugh! But dusting is a big deal. Cleaning the toilets is also a big deal. And so is the cat box. Making yourself available and not getting absorbed into the TV is a REALLY big deal. You want to hear the beautiful sound of ‘cha-CHING’ over and over as you make extra deposits in your love bank? Trust me, the more deposits you make, the more mountaintop experiences you’ll have. Plus, you and your soulmate will be better equipped to withstand life’s storms when they come… and they will come.
Here’s something else that will knock her socks off… surprise your spouse! Do something creative like a treasure map to a boxed set of earrings or something like that. Doesn’t have to be expensive either. Hey, it can be something sweet like her favorite chocolate. It’s the fact that you want to join in something together that’s fun and adventuresome. That’s what stimulates a relationship like nothing else. I know. I didn’t learn that until late in our marriage. And now, I would give anything for some ‘do-overs.’
I learned a great deal about myself while writing personal accounts for Culture Jock. Not surprisingly, most of it was unflattering and I’m not proud of my selfish actions or by the practice of frequently putting my needs first. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least. It is not fun or comfortable to be confronted by images that reflect who we really are. Our spiritual mirrors do not lie.
My career was broadcasting. Even though I ended my career at a Christian radio network, I was a secular deejay for 36 years in a profession that cultivated a lifestyle for singles. Raising a family in such an atmosphere was a huge challenge. Against all odds and frequent failures to maintain Christian standards of morality, my wife Kay, our two daughters and two sons eventually prevailed. But I made many mistakes along the way and at times my judgment of what was said on the air and what I did off the air must have seemed ridiculously absent as I straddled life with one foot in the world and one foot in the church — one of the most overused ‘dance’ routines known to mankind, and just like everyone else who’s tried it, I looked comfortably foolish.
Bottom line, I have learned what TO do and what NOT to do the hard way. If my experience can help you in any way, then writing the book was worth it. It comes down to being a Christian. What? It’s that easy? Well, all we need to do is put others first. Take a back seat to our desires and goals and be sure to put family and church ahead of our many so-called ‘priorities’… like checking our email or texts on our cell phones at dinner which can kill romance faster than your local flower shop runs out of roses on Valentine’s Day. Put the phone down and talk to one another, beginning with soulmate and family. Just doing that will pay huge dividends.
I’d like to share something else. I mentioned ‘do-overs’ earlier. You never know when someone you really care about will either be taken sick, badly injured in an accident or worse. In my case, the ‘or worse’ happened.
My wife Kay was diagnosed with glioblastoma brain tumors. Doctors cracked open her skull twice in May of 2020 to remove the tumors, but it was the chemo and radiation that produced a terrible outcome. While at the hospital ER to get a blood platelets transfusion (because chemo kills white cells as easily as it kills the cancerous cells) she suffered a cardiac arrest. It took about ten minutes to get her heart beating again. By that time, the damage was done. She suffered severe anoxia and ever since August of 2020, has been rendered a quadriplegic with no muscle control whatsoever, except her eyelids. She can’t talk, smile, move or do anything on her own. I am her caregiver and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her now. Sadly, her prognosis isn’t good and so there is no way to celebrate Valentine’s Day in any meaningful way for the two of us. I don’t even know how much she is able to comprehend. Her cognitive abilities were severely damaged when her brain did without oxygen for so long.
I’m not complaining. God has allowed these things to happen, and His name will be glorified. I am steadily becoming the servant I should have been all along. The irony is that I have no idea how much she appreciates or cares what I do and that is hard, very hard to endure. But I’m committed to staying the course. If only I’d been more selfless and less selfish when she was bright-eyed and full of life.
So, if you’re in a relationship, don’t put off putting others ahead of yourself because, should the time ever arise when you or your spouse is incapacitated, you will at least have many memories to share and recall them with great fondness. Remember. Jesus told his followers, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
I hope you have the happiest of Valentine’s Days. Remember. You don’t have to break the bank to put your soulmate ahead of you. All it takes is for your self-will to take a backseat to anyone you wish to have a stronger relationship with. That’s what being a good spouse and a good Christian is all about. The simple act of selflessness can bring about wondrous change, repairing even the most damaged of relationships. And hey, if it glorifies God, it’s the right thing to do.
Kenny Noble Cortes is an American radio personality, musician, and prolific Christian songwriter. Kenny and his family crisscrossed the country, working for radio stations in Houston, Chicago, Seattle, L.A. and Miami coming to rest in Denver, Colorado in 2003. In 2010 he joined the K-LOVE and Air1 Radio Networks for nearly seven inspiring years. After stepping down from K-LOVE in the fall of 2016, Kenny focused on his music. In December of that year, he was invited to become the acoustic guitarist for the Christian rock band, Renewed. After two great years including a God-given Easter Sunday concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, he moved to North Georgia. Kenny and his wife Kay have an inspiring home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Culture Jock takes you from the author’s first crystal radio set to a hot air balloon crash to being named 1977 Major Market Air Personality of The Year while at KLOL Houston . Not only did the culture evolve during the upheaval years of the 60s, 70s and continuing into the new century, but the author, a believer in Christ, struggled to adapt, and when he couldn’t, his decades-long marriage and faith were at risk of disintegrating as he danced with the devil and returned to his favorite addiction and the ways of the world! His story is everyman’s story. Any spouse can attest to its credibility. Unbelievably, all the tragedies and near disasters in this book really happened and continue to test his allegiance to Jesus Christ even to this day.