Midlife Moments'


Midlifer of the Month


  Tim and Dinah Lewis

Valentine Surprises

by Mike Bellah


 "He kidnapped me after work. I got in the car, and he poured me a glass of wine. And I said 'Oh my,' because it was Valentine's Day. We didn't turn to go home, and I didn't have a clue where we were going."

The words belong to Dinah Lewis and describe her first Valentine surprise date with husband Tim shortly after this couple (now midlifers) married 13 years ago. Tim took her from their Huntsville, Texas home to Madisonville, where they sipped coke floats at an old-fashioned soda fountain, browsed through a book store, drove leisurely through the countryside, and stayed overnight in the Madisonville Inn.

Since then Tim, a free-lance writer, has surprised Dinah, a nurse, every year with getaways to places like Galveston and Fredericksburg, Texas and Santa Fe, New Mexico. When money was tight, they sent daughter Lana (now 11) to a sitter, and stayed home. But, even then, the surprises continued.

Last year Tim turned their three-bedroom home into a cruise ship. He decorated each room to simulate actual locations on a vessel the couple would take to Cozemel, Mexico the following summer. Tim and Dinah spent the evening dining by candlelight on seafood and dancing under a mirror ball to disco music. "The cruise we took in our house had more magic than the cruise we actually took," says Dinah.

Tim says that he plans the Valentine surprises to keep the romantic spark in his marriage. "It's a spark that has to be re-ignited year after year," he says. Dinah agrees: "It's not something that just happens; it's something you work on," she says.

The Lewises say that Tim initiates the Valentine surprises because he likes to be creative and Dinah likes to be surprised. He is creative. One year he turned their dining room into a beach scene complete with Christmas lights on the ceiling for stars, floating candles in a child's wading pool and the recorded sound of waves lapping at the beach.

"I love the creativity part of it, and I love romance," says Tim. "It's fun for me." Dinah appreciates her husband's effort. "The thing that means the most is that it's not just candy and flowers, not just a place to go out to eat," she says. "There's a lot of thought and a lot of care that go into it."

What advice do the Lewises have for other couples who want to use Valentine celebrations to keep the spark in their marriage? "Set aside time for it. Make plans; it doesn't just happen," says Dinah. "Think of it as a time not just for your pleasure, but for your wife's too," says Tim. "And don't be afraid to do something a little different."

Finally, Dinah mentions the emotional support her husband provides along with the surprises. "One of the things that makes a woman beautiful is when her husband tells her that she is," says Dinah. "If you're told something enough, you believe it, and this man tells me that all the time." "She didn't believe it for a long time," Tim adds, giving Dinah a playful grin. "She does now; she thinks she's a fox."

The Lewises' example is refreshing and makes an important point. Romance is not only for the very young. With effort and creativity, midlife couples will find it alive and well, especially on Valentine's Day.


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