Does Valentine’s Day Complicate Relationships?

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?

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Here are the Valentine’s Day biggies that rub me the wrong way:

  1. 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. 
  2. The false belief that the obligatory expression of affection on that day is, indeed, affection.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Happy Valentine’s Day.



Love in Action All Wrapped Up

Love one another and you will be happy.
It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

~Michael Leunig

Love in Action

Showing love goes far beyond saying “I love you.”  Actions speak much, much, much louder than words.

You can show deep love through simple actions—lending a hand, lending an ear, sharing a smile, sharing a sorrow, sharing time, washing feet…

To your husband

  • Don’t criticize—replace criticism with gratitude. Let him know he is your hero and that you appreciate him.
  • Smile—you share a connection nobody else has; connect with a smile that makes him go weak in the knees, that whispers love.
  • Dress it up—dress for your husband just as you did in the early days of your marriage.
  • Thoughtful service—perform small acts of service to show your husband you are thinking of him and value him.
  • Feed your man—the way to a man’s heart is still through his stomach, but don’t neglect his stomach once you have his heart.
  • The power of touch—claim him with a kiss, yes, right there in front of the kids. They’ll groan, but inwardly they’ll feel secure knowing their parents love each other.
  • Listen—give your husband your undivided attention, eyes, ears, mind. Share his interests and his life.

To your children

  • Smile even more—let them see their value reflected in your face every time they walk into a room.
  • Hugs and kisses—hug your children, especially when they don’t deserve affection, because that is when they need it most.
  • Play and laugh—get on your child’s level and play and laugh; laugh while you play, laugh while you work, just laugh.
  • Read aloud—hold hands and jump into the pages of a book for shared adventures and memories, teaching moments and snuggle time.
  • Teach your children—give your children the gift of your time and experience; teach them to keep a home, work hard, think, defend their faith, say they’re sorry, forgive, be a friend, and love.
  • Cut the criticism—encourage, praise, build up, correct, guide, cherish, and respect. When it is time for criticism, serve with a heaping helping of love.
  • Listen and look—listen with your eyes, mind, body, and heart without trying to fix or teach or correct. Just listen.

Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.

~Jean Anouilh