Was Your Valentine's Day Disappointing?
Ooh, did I hit a nerve?
Valentine's Day. You just had a reaction to those words. My guess is, you either got the warm fuzzies, cringed from past disappointments, or you made a gagging motion with your finger and open mouth. I understand all three of those reactions because my view of Valentine's Day has morphed over the years into a combination of all of them. I want to preface the rest of this blog post by saying that my husband is, in all honesty, one of the most generous and considerate men I've ever known. None of what I'm about to say is coming from a place of bitterness. Just an attitude of, "I know how you feel."
I want to talk about how shallow this holiday has become. Sure, it's nice to receive flowers or get a little extra attention from your man. If you get all that from your guy without having to twist his arm to get him to participate, that's fantastic! Count your blessings. You don't need to read on unless you want to. If you're single, this isn't for you. You have a whole different perspective. But if you're in a committed relationship and for some unknown reason, your significant other refuses to do anything special for you on Valentine's Day, what I'm about to say is just for you.
I had my share of teenage sweethearts who (most likely with mom's money) spoiled me on Valentine's Day. It's something a girl comes to expect and I want to point out the problem with that.
I'm here to let the disappointed ladies know...
That you don't need to be! When I got married, I was surrounded by women at work and friends on Facebook with boyfriends and husbands who went all out on Valentine's Day. It used to be really depressing to see all that and constantly compare my own relationship to the little snippets they choose to let others see. Don't get me wrong, surprises and romantic gestures are wonderful! But some people show their love in other ways. And that's what I want to help women like me understand.
Chris, my husband, is a total softie. He's romantic in his own way. He wakes me up with coffee, loves to snuggle, and puts our sleepy chihuahua on the bed next to me before he leaves for work in the morning so we can cuddle and be warm. He cares for me physically and emotionally like no one else ever could. He's my other half in every possible sense.
But... then there's Valentine's Day.
Getting Chris to even acknowledge the day, other than a greeting of "happy V-Day" over text after he already left for work, is like pulling teeth and I've never gotten him to explain to me why that is. I know a lot of you can relate to that.
So here's where we get down to the nitty gritty. About three years ago, I decided I didn't want to spend Valentine's Day in total self-pity anymore. "He needs to man up and buy you flowers," you might say. No, no he doesn't. Why? Because I decided that year to let him off the hook. For good. I married who I married and he so clearly loves me - and I'm talking about the act of choosing to love - the best way he knows how the other 364 days of the year. That doesn't mean I've written the day off completely.
You have to decide to just let it be. Let your man be who he is and love you the best way he knows how. There are any number of appropriate cliches here. It's the little things, pick your battles, etc. As a whole, our society has become incredibly me-centric. Even when just dating, a woman looks for a man who can fulfill her needs and complete her. There's no possible way another human being can do that. Think about it for a minute.
A couple of years ago, I read a blog post by Timothy Keller called You Never Marry the Right Person. It changed my life. Mr. Keller talks about the way men and women search for a mate these days. We look for someone who can complete us. Someone who can be everything we need them to be, day in and day out, instead of searching for someone who will contribute to a peaceful and stable household.
Shouldn't a holiday that's supposed to be about celebrating love, be about both of you? Stop making it a day where it's mandatory for your man to spoil you. If he honestly wants to, by all means, let him and be very grateful for it! But not if he's only doing it to avoid sleeping on the couch for the rest of the week.
Okay, miss know-it-all...
I'm not here to act as a marriage counselor because, Lord knows, I'm not even close to qualified for that. I'm not trying to sit on my high horse and tell you why my marriage is the best and you're doing it all wrong. Not at all. My marriage has ups and downs and challenges just like any other relationship. We are both human. I just want to share with you an incredibly valuable lesson that I've learned. After all, I photograph families and children and couples in love, and there's nothing more important to me in my own life than those family ties which can not be severed.
Relationships aren't about what your mate can do to make you happy day in and day out. Stop making it about you.
Get to the point already
My point is this. Let go of all that pressure you're putting on your man to go all out on Valentine's Day and, for goodness sake, STOP trying to impress everyone around you. There it is. I said it. You know that Valentine's Day when I said I decided to let Chris off the hook? It was the best Valentine's Day I've ever had. I stopped to think about what he would like to do. He would NOT like to drop 100 bucks on flowers that will be thrown in the garbage next week. I'm fine with that. It's perfectly rational.
I told him the number one thing I really want on Valentine's Day is just acknowledgement that we're going to make the day special. Spend time together and focus on each other with a little more effort than most other days. When I told him he was off the hook from buying me flowers or trying to think up some super awesome and unique thing to do for me, he was intrigued. I think he honestly thought I was trying to trick him and the wrath would come later. Ha!
Who would have guessed?
Ultimately, we decided on going out to lunch instead of dinner because Chris hates crowds and let's be honest, most restaurants are absolutely crazy on Valentine's Day. We went to a nice pizza place, had great conversation with lots of laughs and no cell phones to distract us. Those stayed put away. We then walked around and shopped for a while since the weather was surprisingly gorgeous for February in Oklahoma. And then we went to Lowe's to buy some new lighting we had both been wanting for our house. We spent quality time together and the money we spent that day was for both of us. Chris was happy and so was I. We had such an amazing day that we decided that will be our tradition from now on. Spend time together and if we're feeling a little spendy, we will buy something for us.
There's something even better
If you're like me and you've spent year after year angry or confused because your man won't do what's expected of him on Valentine's Day, even when you spell out for him exactly what you want, I'm telling you now: Let it go. Just let it go. Am I giving him a free pass to skip out on something that's important to me? Maybe. What I do know is that I am happier for it. Again, pick your battles.
Maybe you're the super romantic and spontaneous one in the relationship. Why don't you try spoiling him on Valentine's Day? All I want is for you to think twice about why you're so upset. Is it because your man really treats you that poorly? If so, maybe you should think long and hard about the longevity of your relationship. Or is it because you feel all the pressure from other women around you to have your man show them all up? Do you want to be the one saying, "look what my amazing man surprised me with today!" If you define the success of your relationship based on feedback from people on social media, you need a wake up call. That may sound harsh, but I can say it with confidence because I've been there and now I know better.
Don't misunderstand me. For those of you who do receive flowers and chocolates and other surprises on Valentine's Day, you should absolutely be excited! And there's nothing wrong with sharing your excitement on social media or any other way you choose. I simply want to speak to the hearts of the women who are... well... not you. I love women. We all deserve to feel beautiful and important and loved.
I don't even look at Facebook on Valentine's Day because I'm still human and I'm not immune from allowing myself to make comparisons. Instead, I choose to focus on the little things like I mentioned earlier. The innumerable selfless acts that Chris blesses me with day in and day out. I've never had to wonder for a single minute if he truly loves me or not. And for me, that is better than getting a box of chocolates or a $5 greeting card one day out of the year.