After Valentines Day, people often ask each other, “What did you do?” eyes wide with anticipation to hear the big reveal…
“We spent a weekend away in the wine country.”
“He bought me a sparkly, expensive necklace.”
“We went to a spa and had a mud bath, couples massage and champagne with strawberries.”
“He bought me a dozen roses and huge heart shaped box of chocolates.”
All of those are lovely and wonderful ways to commemorate Valentines Day. I do wonder whether the anticipatory build up and the actual meaning gets a little confused, creating inadvertent pressure on couples to try to jump through hoops to meet each other’s expectations or as I noted above, the expectations of others.
Do we as a society put too many expectations on love relationships around this holiday?
So what if your friend asked, “What did you do for your anniversary?” and you responded, “We got takeout and sat by the fire with a bottle of wine.” Is that good enough? Isn’t Valentines Day ultimately about paying homage to your loved one and the relationship itself? As many beautiful and expensive ways there are to lavish each other, is it not equally as valid if it’s pared down into the simplicity of quality, uninterrupted time spent?
The other day I celebrated my 15th wedding anniversary with my husband, which happens to fall just before Valentines Day. A few people knew we were having an anniversary and of course, asked what we were doing. In the past we have done the weekend away, the nice restaurant out, the gifts … which were all nice. And we might do them again!
But this year, for our 15th anniversary, we went out for an early breakfast then on a hike on a local mountain with a spectacular view of the ocean and San Francisco. We talked about life, our son, our upcoming trip over his school vacation with friends, our concerns and proud moments. Two coyotes approached us on the trail ahead and we marveled at them (he being a mountain biker was completely unfazed, sure enough they trotted off into the bushes when they saw us). We took pictures of the scenery and a few of us. And it was perfect.
Consider what a healthy, happy relationship means to you. The idea of everyone having their own love language, the ways in which they feel loved, is real. Perhaps one of you truly values receiving tokens of affection and the other appreciates uninterrupted time spent together.
My husband happens to never have been a fan of Valentines Day because of the commercialization aspect and our anniversary in such close proximity to it, naturally minimizes the relevance. There just happens to be less weight on it for us and I’m fine with his Valentines Day ambivalence. I make up for it with silly, cute cards and chocolates for him and our son.
As Valentines Day approaches, keep in mind that feeling loved and cared for by each other can occur in very simple ways too. And if people ask what you did, it’s not a competition to measure up in a material way but rather a very personal reflection of what’s important to YOUR relationship.