The winter weather hit our little neighborhood hard. I love how just a simple act of inclement weather – an abundance of snow – can bring the whole Washington, D.C./Baltimore area to a screeching halt.
We shoveled out vehicles and walkways. You could hear the sound of shovels scraping cement up and down the street. Our children built a snow fort in the front yard of our house. We may have launched ourselves off the deck into heaping snow piles… mom included.
And we laughed together, this man I get to walk out life beside, lifting heavy shovelfuls of the white stuff working as a team.
Every year around this time I share a post from the archives about Valentine’s Day and all the ways in which my husband is not overly romantic.
However this time around I am looking at things a bit differently.
I’m finding with each passing year of our life together (together 19 years, married 16 years) that he is more romantic than I thought (or noticed).
Or perhaps with age I am seeing him a bit more clearly as a man, lover, and friend.
I am finding that more and more I love all the ways he loves me (insert “tone of surprise” here).
The Sugary Sweetness of Valentine’s Day
It is very easy during this commercialized, Hallmarked holiday when romance feels contrived and mandatory to focus more on how every other couple is displaying their love for one another.
Actually, it can get pretty obnoxious depending on who your Facebook friends are- you know the couples I am talking about. But for the rest of us normal folks it can be easy to walk away feeling overwhelmed by all this pressure to bring your “A” Game for one day of the year.
I wonder about all those Pinterest, Facebook-worthy couples out there (the ones that are sugary sweet and framed with perfection) – what do their relationships look like every other day? When the camera isn’t rolling? When the newsfeeds have gone flat? When the love seems to sour? When no one is watching or applauding?
- What happens when gravity takes over, and the sisters aren’t where they used to be and that baby pouch is well, OK let’s get real here the baby is in college?
- What happens when the sex is mediocre or nonexistent because every time you start to get your groove on the baby wakes up? Or you just have never learned how to enjoy one another? You aren’t even sure you like sex?!
- What happens when there is disappointment, failure, addiction, enabling, depression, loss, rejection, shame, fear, rage?
- What happens when your parents or his parents are still a point of contention in your relationship – even after all these years? It’s the same shit – different decade? And neither one of you are any closer to helping them understand how harmful, hurtful, and far from encouraging their actions, words, choices are to your life together?
What happens when the last thing you want is to spend another Valentine’s Day with this man or that woman as a couple?
There’s a quote that I love that says don’t compare your everyday to someone’s fabulously wonderful pinterest-worthy 1%.
There are so many life moments between couples that we never witness – the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the downright ugly.
Comparison is the thief of joy. -Theodore Roosevelt
Comparison is a life-sucker.
Comparison is something we choose.
Comparison is something we do to ourselves that sucks the joy from our soul and the celebration from our lives.
And I do not know about you, but the last thing I need is to suck the joy from my own life because I choose to NOT acknowledge the good, beautiful, holy wonderment of the right here and now.
Even if the right here and now is hard.
I married a man who loves me.
Actually when he looks at me with those blue eyes sparkling I would say, “He adores me.”
Our relationship together is not roses, bubbles, butterflies, and puppies – frankly roses have thorns, bubbles burn, and puppies poop on the carpet. There have been times when our life together has been really hard.
I can let a holiday that should be about celebrating LOVE help me feel insecure and weird because I am allowing comparison to be a joy thief OR
I can remember to celebrate all the ways that he loves me every single day we have together.
- He makes me coffee every morning.
- He encourages me to write and create.
- He takes the puppy outside in freezing winter temps.
- He cuddles our children close.
- He meets my spontaneity with calm, steady thoughtfulness
- He goes to work every night.
- He brings home special treats just because one of us mentioned we liked it.
- He is the funniest man and the smartest at things I don’t even understand (seriously when he talks about work stuff my brain hears him as the voice of Charlie Brown’s teacher).
- He is patient. He is grace under pressure.
- He is immensely forgiving.
- He has a backbone and refuses to compromise even when it is hard, he is misunderstood, it brings out the ugly in others (is it possible for people to get even more mean, bitter, and ugly with age?), and it doesn’t make him look good – simply to protect his children & family from the same burdens and voices he has spent decades trying to get over.
- He is brave – by refusing to allow toxicity to continue to cycle into his home
So it’s Valentine’s Day – that day when a woman’s expectations can get the best of her, leaving her husband feeling like he can never be good enough and leaving her heart feeling defeated and sucked dry of joy.
But you have a choice.
One single hallmarked day should never be able to suck the life and joy from your marriage, relationship, or partnership.
You can rejoice in the right here and now choosing to love him/her whatever the day does or does not bring…
or you can nag him/her, and use angry silence and treat him/her like a loser when you don’t get what you thought you should get, because clearly you posted those pins on Pinterest or tagged him/her on those awesome gift ideas on Facebook so he/she should have gotten the hint…
How’s that working for you?
Happy LOVE Day.
Go celebrate with whomever you love – married, single, divorced, widowed, or “it’s complicated.”
From the archives February 14, 2014