I’m a girl (clearly). And despite the time in college when I tried to rebel and not wear anything pink, I am at this moment all decked out none other than pastel pink.
During that same phase, I tried to get rid of anything that had hearts on it, too. I was all about proving that I wasn’t a little girl anymore.
I purchased a heart bracelet for myself last summer. I fell in love with it, and I wear it almost every day. There’s also a calendar right beside my desk with hearts all over it.
So I’ve given up on abstaining from pink and hearts, and have decided to just accept who I am.
I am a sap. I love LOVE. I love celebrating love. I mean, I am a marriage therapist after all. I help couples every day to reconnect and to feel that love at a deeper level than they’ve ever felt before. It is one of the best feelings ever (in fact, I’m spending my Valentine’s Day today helping a few couples- and I couldn’t be happier).
Today is, you guessed it- Valentine’s Day. And while I obviously love LOVE and celebrating it in daily life and teaching people about it (did you know that I can count off about 20 different types of love- companionate, altruistic, consummate, agape, OK, I’ll stop boring you), I have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day.
I am all about a day that celebrates the BEST thing in the world. Even as commercialized as this day has become, if it makes couples stop and show their devotion and gratitude to each other, then it’s a great thing. We need to do MORE of this throughout the year. Almost every day if possible. (I mean, can you imagine how special every day would feel if you somehow intentionally said or did something that showed love to someone? It would feel fabulous my friends! Just freaking amazing!)
But as far as the consumerism and fights that go along with this day, forget it!
Love doesn’t have to cost money. In fact, the most meaningful expressions of love are free. Can you think of the first time you said “I love you” to your spouse? Do you remember not being able to sleep or concentrate on anything when you first started dating? Do you remember how your heart nearly jumped out of your chest the first time you ever kissed?
What about the first time you held your son or daughter in your arms?
Or when you looked over at your dog snoring loudly in his dog bed?
Or when a friend took time out of their really busy day to lend you support and a listening ear when you were having a bad day?
Or when a child drew you a picture of a flower and gave it to you?
Some of the most special gestures of love are free. But they are priceless at the same time, regardless of if they come from a significant other or someone else.
But there’s something about Valentine’s Day that instead of recalling tender memories, makes people recall the hard times. It even makes them fight, too. And then every Valentine’s Day in the future brings up the memories of that fight.
No good. And so against what the day is really supposed to be about.
Instead of thinking about how your loved one rolled over and gave you a special kiss this morning, it may be easy to think about the card they didn’t give you (that will likely end up in the garbage at some point).
Instead of being grateful they washed the dishes last night while you were busy helping your son with homework, you may feel hurt that they didn’t give you a giant heart-shaped boxed of chocolates with middles that you never like to eat anyway.
Instead of relishing in the fact that you both have worked hard in the past few weeks to save and pay off the credit cards full of Christmas presents, it may be easy to feel embarrassed at work when your husband didn’t pay quadruple to send you flowers.
It’s easy to compare your relationship to other relationships on V-day. It’s easy to feel hurt and disappointed, too.
And that’s OK to feel that way. Feelings are real and they come on suddenly and without warning at times.
But comparing your relationship to other relationships isn’t healthy for your relationship. Neither is focusing on all of the disappointments.
Today, instead of thinking of the things in your relationship that could definitely use a tweak, think about the things that you would miss if they suddenly stopped happening.
- No one turned on the porch light for you on those nights when you are working late?
- There wasn’t another set of eyes and ears to listen for your toddler attempting to scale the bookcase?
- You didn’t get a text asking you how your day was?
- The hairs in the bathroom sink vanished?
- There was no one to call to ask what it means when your car won’t start?
While there are always ways to strengthen relationships (yes, even in those that look the most happy), the secret to a happy, stable relationship is knowing that it takes five positive interactions for every one not-so-great interaction according to marriage therapy guru Dr. John Gottman. Keep in mind that the 5:1 ratio is for relationships that are going OK. If things are tense, the ratio of good deeds and compliments needs to be a bit higher.
More to come on this!
Oh, and, Happy Valentine’s Day. Whether or not you have an official Valentine, it’s a great day to celebrate all of the wonderful gifts of love in your life.