A romantic comedy would never feature my favorite Valentine’s Day memory.

My boyfriend and I were living two hours apart that year, each of us rooming with a close friend as we finished our graduate studies. He arrived to visit me on Valentine’s Day weekend after a wintry trek across the state. Having to delay his trip to avoid a snowstorm hadn’t deterred him. Tucked inside his suitcase were the fixings for red velvet cupcakes, which led to a festive Saturday evening baking date. Frosting cupcakes beside my boyfriend with the scent of our efforts wafting through my apartment was pretty close to a Hallmark moment, but the event I would remember came later.

The next morning we braved the Valentine’s Day restaurant scene for brunch, which to this day remains one of my favorite things to do for a date. Sipping coffee and sampling flavored French toast in a cutesy café easily could have been the highlight of my weekend, but the best moment of the day was yet to come. (Yes, something better than BRUNCH happened.)

Back at my apartment, alone in my dining room, my eyes fell upon a Harry Potter-themed card at my place at the table—a card I still have five years and four moves later. Inside was a sweet and simple message from my boyfriend, telling me he loved me for the first time. Those three words danced across the page in his perfect cursive, a handwriting reserved just for signatures and love notes to me. As a woman whose primary love language is words of affirmation, I cherished this moment. What happened next, however, was perhaps even more important to the development of our relationship.

The most striking part of that day was the second Harry Potter-themed valentine my boyfriend left on the table: a valentine for my roommate. He’d had the forethought to make a card for a woman he barely knew, because he wanted to include her in the day’s festivities. He had taken time out of his busy graduate school schedule to design and hand write a card just for her. It may sound strange that a homemade card for someone else was the highlight of a romantic weekend, but the card showed me something that the other events of the weekend did not. 

I already knew I enjoyed spending time with my boyfriend and that he could plan a lovely date. I expected that at some point in the relationship we would exchange the words, “I love you.” The card for my roommate showed me something new. This small, friendly gesture exemplified a quality that I knew was important to have in a spouse. My boyfriend’s capacity to care greatly for the people in my life, not just me, became apparent that day. This man was not only a caring boyfriend; he was also the type of man who would be a great son-in-law, brother-in-law, and best friend’s husband to the people most important to me.

Five years later, I can attest to the joys of having a husband whose thoughtfulness extends to my family and friends. That sweet boyfriend became a fiancé who suggested visiting my grandparents to tell them of our engagement instead of sharing the news by phone. I have fond memories of seeing their reactions to our announcement in person, and I know being together for that moment was meaningful to them too. That fiancé turned into a newlywed who not only proposed we visit my former roommate on the drive home from our honeymoon, but also humored our girl talk as we discussed her new love interest. He’s a husband who’s quick to help my mom with the occasional home maintenance project, most recently finding a solution to deter a pesky woodpecker that was destroying her siding. Taping reflective streamers to the outside of my childhood home doesn’t sound romantic, but the fact that he was doing it for my mom certainly was.

I’ve yet to find a Valentine’s Day chick flick starring this type of man, probably because it wouldn’t make for very exciting scenes on the big screen. Most movies teach us that men should win over the hearts of their valentines with fancy gifts, surprise dates, and dramatic proclamations of love. In real life, however, a simple act of love for someone close to me is one of the best ways to sweep me off my feet.