At the risk of sounding like a hater, I admit that I’m not big on Valentine’s Day the way it is often celebrated in my great big beautiful USA. What’s not to like?
Here are the Valentine’s Day biggies that rub me the wrong way:
- Crowds of “last-minute” men in the 20-items-or-less aisle hoping their tinted carnations and cheap chocolates show enough “love” to appease their significant others, but knowing they’re probably in for a fight.
- The false belief that the obligatory expression of affection on that day is, indeed, affection.
- The thought from far too many women that if a man doesn’t open his wallet on Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and Sweetest Day (if you’re in the Midwest), the love and commitment he shows the rest of the year is negated.
- The thought by a normally-negligent man that a pink bear and a $4 box of Russel Stovers will cover his backside.
Grrrr. Yes, I growled. Out loud.
Let’s get one thing straight right here, right now: Valentine’s Day the way it is celebrated today is a complication, and no relationship needs complication.
A Simple Valentine Tradition that Stuck
Does that mean we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day? No, it doesn’t. At The Simple Home, we keep it simple and fun…no unrealistic expectations!
This year we are having a Post-it note party. Each family member gets a pad of Post-it notes to write (or draw) on and exchange. It’s simple, heartfelt, creative, and a ton o’ laughs!
The Post-it exchange is a tradition that started accidentally the year my husband and I forgot the date (a regular occurrence) and hastily scratched out our feelings on Post-its. It was my favorite Valentine ever, and it stuck…no Post-it pun intended there.
Perhaps the main reason it stuck is because the simplicity of it fits our relationship.
Keeping Simplicity in Our Marriage
One thing my husband has always appreciated about me is my lack of expectation…about some things. I don’t demand (or expect) a big deal made out of Valentine’s Day. I don’t demand (or expect) a big to-do on our anniversary. (Truth be told, I don’t expect him, much less me, to even remember our anniversary!) I don’t expect my birthday to be fussed over.
I do expect effort to be put into the relationship itself, however.
He appreciates that lack of focus on ceremony…and so do I.
We have always focused more on the marriage than on ceremony. The planning we put into our wedding was nothing, nothing compared to what we have whole-heartedly poured into the marriage. We place more emphasis on the days than the dates, on the day-to-day marriage than on the “Hallmark” occasions. We always have, we always will, even if that means a Post-it note instead of roses and restaurants on Valentine’s Day.
Does this sound utterly unromantic to you?
Romance in the Real World
Life is dirty. It’s gritty. It’s real. We are two very real people in a very real life loving each other in a very real, raw way. That’s not romantic in and of itself.
Or is it…?
I see young love, which is nice…and young…and lovely…and idealistic…and romantic, maybe, but the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen is the old couple, scarred with years of raw gritty love, still standing by each other, still grumping and fussing and pestering and nagging and laughing and crying and holding on tightly. Still living together, still loving, still forgetting anniversaries and laughing about it, still hurting and forgiving. Knowing each other so well…so very well…but still learning about each other.
That’s romantic in my book.
And that’s simple love.
Simple love does not mean it’s easy. Simple love means it’s uncomplicated.
How do I Know if I’m Complicating my Marriage?
I have to, from time to time, look in a mirror and ask that crazy lady a few questions:
- Am I complicating my marriage by focusing on dates more than days?
- Do I put too much emphasis on appearances and dreams rather than on the raw grit of reality?
- Are my expectations based on a movie or a friend’s (not necessarily accurate) portrayal of her marriage?
- Do I hold my man up to the standard someone else has set (say, my grandfather, his dad, Mr. Darcy) instead of encouraging him to be the man God intended him to be?
- Do I forgive and accept him the way I want and expect and need to be forgiven and accepted?
- Am I loving my man out loud for who he is every day, or scorning him because today, on Valentine’s Day, he didn’t follow the script I wrote in my head?
Think about it.
Periodically I revisit a 14-day series I wrote on building strong families. When the nation is focused on the mush and gush, I like to build up my family’s foundation a bit, and remind myself (because I need reminding) what really matters in a marriage and on Valentine’s Day…and…I can’t believe I’m saying this…it isn’t chocolate.
I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Happy Valentine’s Day.