Valentine’s Day. Not a fan.

Valentine Valentine’s Day is ridiculous.

Before you go getting the wrong idea, it’s not because I’m single and own 42 cats and resent anyone in a happy relationship. Nope. I’m all about love. Love it!

And I’m not going to get preachy about how it’s a purely commercial holiday. (Though I could go on at some length about how it is a holiday designed exclusively to guilt people into buying flowers, cards, candy, and dinners that have been marked up by hundreds of percentages over their usual prices. But that would be a digression.)

But this isn’t why I hate the heart-shaped, sickly sweet holiday. I hate it because it can be poison for relationships, especially for married couples. We run the risk of falling into the trap that love is something we only need to practice once a year. That thoughtfulness and kindness and putting your spouse first are deeds reserved for a special occasion.

No wonder we hear people talk about “falling out of love” all the time. Who can keep up that first love inertia of love letters, breathless kisses, flowers, and romantic dates? Only people on reality shows with producers handling all the details, and look how well that works out for them.

I don’t claim to be a marriage expert, but Mark and I have been married almost ten years, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this:

Love is not a feeling. Love is a verb. Love is something you must deliberately, consciously, intentionally do each and every day. It is denial of self, putting your spouse first. It is not always comfortable, and certainly not easy. It is work.

And not the kind of work you can cram into one day of the year, put together hastily with spitballs and scotch tape and covered over with red roses.

It’s the daily work of caring for your wife when she has yet another migraine, and not holding it against her. Of accepting your husband’s insane work schedule and supporting him in it, because that’s what he needs: support, not a shrewish voice wondering when he’s coming home. It’s taking care of each other all the time, in body, mind, and soul.

Valentine’s Day has taken on prom-like expectations for adults. It’s advertised as the best day of your life, when really, it’s just another Thursday night. Here’s the challenge: don’t make February 14th exceptional; make all the other days of the year just as full of love. Then you’ll really have something to celebrate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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29 Responses to Valentine’s Day. Not a fan.
  1. Alison
    February 5, 2013 | 12:47 am

    Angie, I love this and I wholeheartedly agree. Why wait for one day of the year to show some love and appreciation? Why not buy flowers, or take your wife out, whenever, just for the heck of it?

    And it’s also love in many ways, as you say. To be there, to listen, to hold, to talk.

    Happy Non-Valentine’s Day to you! :)

    • Angie
      February 6, 2013 | 6:24 pm

      Happy Non-Valentine’s to you, too!

      I don’t object to the idea of special days or nights by any means, I just think that Valentine’s Day has grown to such epic proportions in our society’s consciousness that some people feel like it’s the one day of the year they need to worry about paying any attention to their relationship.

  2. angela
    February 5, 2013 | 8:23 am

    My husband and I are so not Valentine’s Day people. (And for the second year in a row the kids and I are going to be out of town. This year we’re staying with my grandma in her retirement home, so that’s REALLY not what Hallmark had in mind…)

    Love is definitely something that needs to be nurtured and cultivated.

    • Angie
      February 6, 2013 | 6:26 pm

      Hallmark nightmare for sure! But you are going to be showing love to your grandmother, and to your kids.

  3. Marisah
    February 5, 2013 | 8:30 am

    I love this column! My husband and I have been married almost 14 years and marriage is truly work- hard but very rewarding. I think we gave up on Valentine’s Day long ago but our marriage has gotten stronger through the years as we have shown our love,support,and appreciation for each other continually all year. I don’t think I could have received a better present this year than having my husband take care of 5 year old twins for 5 days by himself while I was sick in bed with the flu. When I tried to compliment him on it, he said no big deal- that is what marriage is about and that I had done the same for him!

    • Angie
      February 6, 2013 | 6:29 pm

      Thank you! And congrats on 14 years!

      You’re on my wavelength exactly. I’ve got twins, too, and having my husband take care of them when I have a migraine is a gift. Even better than one that comes in a tiny blue box.

      Thanks so much for reading.

  4. Arnebya
    February 5, 2013 | 9:22 am

    We’ve never celebrated VD (and I have to giggle because we’ve always called it VD to remind ourselves that it can be, um, bad for your health. Ha.) Ours is the same reasons you give: pick a random day in May to tell me you love me. Then do it again in August and November, but not because someone at some store is telling you you are SUPPOSED to do it on this day. I consider it juvenile (but at the same time when people get engaged or married or do sweet things on this day, it makes me happy; it’s just not for me.) And I say juvenile because in my mind, kids exchange candy and cards and that’s that. At the adult level, I just don’t…get it. Love is year round (and yes, I get the snarky comments about how I must be unhappy in my marriage if we don’t show our love. No, we don’t choose to spend a fortune on things we wouldn’t otherwise buy. Last year, as an example, I found a gum my husband loved but couldn’t find in regular stores anymore. It was by accident I happened upon it, accidental that it was on VD. I brought that gum home you’d have thought he hit the lottery. THAT, he said, is love. (Gum, y’all. Gum.)

    • Angie
      February 6, 2013 | 6:34 pm

      Oh, wow, I will never be able to think of it as anything other than VD from now on…and I suspect Akismet will now be working overtime. Ahem.

      Agree with you on it being cute for kids to exchange candy and cards, but at the same time, it’s become such a requirement that you do it for everybody that it’s almost lost it’s sparkle. Does that make sense? Not that you would want to leave everyone out, but the packs of store-bought cards that are all the same for child after child…kind of more depressing than uplifting. From an adult POV, anyway. In reality I think the kids are just glad to get lollipops.

      Gum can totally be a sign of love. The point is the thought that went into it. So glad you get what I’m saying!

  5. Elaine A.
    February 5, 2013 | 9:44 am

    I’ll admit, I still like a special dinner somewhere around that time, just because I like to go on dates and it’s a good excuse – ha! BUT, I totally agree that we should love each other to the fullest every day and that most of the stuff surrounding V-Day is a bunch of poppy cock.

    I like your point about poisoning relationsships…. very interesting and probably true in many cases.

    Let’s love each other up ALL the time!! :D

    • Angie
      February 6, 2013 | 6:36 pm

      That’s my biggest point, I guess, is that if we make VD (thank you, Arnebya!) such a focal point, will we come to see that as the standard for romance and love, and cease to either do or appreciate all the things we should do for each other daily?

  6. Greta
    February 5, 2013 | 10:08 am

    This hit really close to home for me. It’s what has happened here, for sure. You’re absolutely, positively right about all of this.

    • Angie
      February 6, 2013 | 6:38 pm

      The thing is, I don’t know how we fix it, other than by teaching our children that we love every day. The same way we teach them that church isn’t just for Christmas and Easter, for example. But our generation and the one dating now…that, I don’t know.

  7. Poppy
    February 5, 2013 | 10:18 am

    Couldn’t agree more! I always do something goofy for the kids like make them heart pancakes, but love for my husband is so much more. (Like not ringing his neck for “almost” hitting the laundry basket with his dirty socks!)

    • Angie
      February 6, 2013 | 6:40 pm

      I do enjoy doing things for the kids that day that I wouldn’t usually do (like the stereotypical heart shaped box of chocolates). Heart pancakes are a great idea–will have to keep that in mind this year!

  8. Robin | Farewell, Stranger
    February 5, 2013 | 10:30 am

    So true. I always feel like we “should” do something for Valentine’s Day, but I don’t really want to. And then I feel like I suck, you know? Spontaneous stuff is way better.

    • Angie
      February 6, 2013 | 6:42 pm

      That would be the commercialism. The making you feel like you should. Argh. Since when do Hallmark, Kay Jewelers, and 1-800-flowers get to tell us how to run our relationships?

  9. Doctor G
    February 5, 2013 | 11:35 am

    This is the absolute truth. Way to go!

    • Angie
      February 6, 2013 | 6:47 pm

      Thanks!

  10. just JENNIFER
    February 5, 2013 | 11:59 am

    I totally agree with this….with one caveat: I don’t the hearts and flowers hurt anything. I think it can be a very nice gesture. But of course, after 14 years of marriage I too have learned it is a daily decision to love.

    • Angie
      February 6, 2013 | 6:48 pm

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m never going to turn down hearts and flowers! I’d just rather have them on an unexpected day than on the day a bunch of companies decide is THE day.

  11. Lady Jennie
    February 5, 2013 | 12:02 pm

    I like it half-heartedly. Although we barely get around to celebrating it and it always becomes a big joke (we have a really happy marriage), it’s fun to have an excuse to get flowers and chocolate. Well … forget the chocolate – they never come, but the flowers. Any excuse, I’ll take it! ;-)

    • Angie
      February 6, 2013 | 6:49 pm

      I can understand that. Like I said, I wouldn’t turn down flowers. But the markup, the feeling that it’s the day you “should” send flowers…those turn me off.

  12. erin margolin
    February 5, 2013 | 12:40 pm

    totally w/ you, Angie. we normally order pizza and watch movies as a family on V-Day. Local take & bake pizza place makes heart-shaped pizzas that day, so the kids get extra excited about it!

    Love this post!

  13. Galit Breen
    February 5, 2013 | 2:59 pm

    Oh, I don’t think it has to be this way at all!

    But I’m happy to agree to disagree with you!

    Really interesting post topic! Love!

  14. Julia
    February 5, 2013 | 3:13 pm

    Oh, this is such an interesting post!
    My husband completely agrees with this. He always says that Valentine’s Day is a complete waste of time, love should be shown everyday not just one day a year, etc.
    And I would say I agree….IF love was really shown everyday.
    I do think love takes on different forms when you are married. Romance comes more in the form of daily tasks than in wildly romantic evenings.
    But I also think that especially in the hustle and bustle of every day life it’s easy to over look just plain old traditional romance.
    So I think Valentine’s Day should be a day not to guilt us into remembering love, but to remind us that even though it takes on different meanings in the course of our relationships, we should still take the time to focus on the romantic parts that make relationships magical.
    And? I think I love this post. :)

  15. Natalie
    February 5, 2013 | 4:58 pm

    I absolutely agree….with everything you said.

  16. laura
    February 5, 2013 | 6:02 pm

    I won’t say that my husband and I don’t do anything for Vday. But we don’t make it special. Or over the top.

    We do random special things for each other all year long, so we’ve never felt the need to go ‘all out’ on one day.

    Great post!

  17. Jennifer
    February 5, 2013 | 9:36 pm

    Well I’ve been married almost 23 years and I can say that I agree with you 100%.

  18. Jessica
    February 6, 2013 | 10:40 am

    My husband and I rarely do anything special for Valentine’s Day and we don’t usually get each other gifts. We buy stuff for each other all year long and try to get date nights during the year when we can so really this holiday is just another day in our house.

    But if he wants to buy me flowers…I’ll take them. ;)

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