Thoughts on Valentine’s Day 2014
Valentine’s Day is upon us again!
What do you feel?
Perhaps you feel love and warmth for that special person in your Life. You may feel gratitude for the strong bonds of true friends or the unconditional love of family.
Maybe you feel indifferent and cynical, dismissing it as another commercialized special day, heavily promoted by companies to guilt people into parting with large sums of money by equating love = gifts.
But if they are successful, maybe what you’re feeling is panic… because you forgot. And you just know there will be… trouble.
Valentine’s Day provokes many feelings which run the gamut from happiness and excitement to fear and guilt. It’s always amazing to me how one special occasion can engender so many different thoughts and emotions and be the happiest day for some, and the scariest for others.
My personal feeling? I think Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be anything special, and should be lived like any other day.
Let me explain.
What’s one common thread that runs through Valentine’s Day?
Expressions of love, right?
Couples who have been married for years start holding hands… this one special day.
People who have been busy with business or career make time to go on a dinner date… this one special day.
People make an extra effort to behave in a loving, caring, gentle way and reaffirm their love for one another… this one special day.
Unfortunately for many couples, Valentine’s Day is also the only day they do this!
And that’s the problem.
If Valentine’s Day is the one day that you…
… treat your partner right
… speak respectfully
… listen attentively
… focus thought and gaze on your partner
… dress well
… perform acts of love
… buy gifts
… think about what you can do for her
… think about how you can be there for him
… but the rest of the year you have done none of these, what does it say?
People are happy when they get treated well on special days like birthdays or Valentine’s Day. The sad thing is that’s special because being treated so well has become a novel experience. It contrasts with what they are used to most of the time in their relationships.
Behaving well is the way you should be behaving in the first place. If you treat someone you love well on special days, why not the other days too?
Paradoxically for me, therefore, the less special Valentine’s Day seems, the stronger and happier the relationship.
Celebrate Valentine’s Day!
Does that mean Valetine’s Day has no value? Certainly, many people now dismiss Valentine’s day, or in fact any other ‘special’ day as one of opportunistic commercialization. In much the same way De Beers and N.W. Ayer made the diamond the symbol of everlasting love and a must-have for engagement rings, the evil promoters of Valentine’s Day would have you equate expensive gifts, overpriced flowers and fancy dinners as de rigueur if you are to show your partner (and her girlfriends on Monday) how much you love her.
It’s cynical and there’s a ring of truth in it, but I don’t necessarily conclude special days should be nixed, boycotted or a complete non-event.
There are potentially two things of value that Valentine’s Day can give us and add to our leading a fuller Life, relationships-wise.
1. An Opportunity for Reflection and a New Start
I like to believe most people are good people and even if a relationship has become boring or routine, as long as both have remained faithful there’s still hope. Valentine’s Day could be a day of reflection and decision to set things aflame again.
If you’ve taken your partner for granted, analyze why. If you’ve slacked off, it’s time to get back to it and be more aware of your behavior. Maybe you’re just not good at showing affection. That’s personality, but it’s important to remember we need to show it to the people we love, and this could well be a starting point.
On the other hand Valentine’s Day may highlight certain ugly truths about your relationship, your partner, and you.
It’s sad and ironic, but many couples actually have their biggest quarrels on Valentine’s Day. Not surprisingly, any gift-giving occasion invites comparison and breeds jealousy. If you have nothing deep it boils down to the biggest diamond and the most expensive watch. When one can only measure love by the value of a gift, the elaborateness of the dinner, or favours in the bedroom, materialism, shallowness, and less desirable values are admirably exposed.
These are the types of ugly behavior that actually prompt a realization that the relationship may not be on the best foundations. Consider some of these ideas in thinking about your relationship:
If both still want the relationship, resolve to make changes and use Valentine’s Day as a springboard to making this happen. That way Valentine’s Day now serves as an anniversary of this decision and a marker for you to measure your success, one year from now.
First, treat each other the way you would on Valentine’s Day and extend that for as many days as you can (perhaps minus the gifts if you wish to stay solvent).
Next, go through a goal setting process. It may seem odd to draw the comparison, but the same methods for weight loss or starting exercise can be applied to your relationships too. Although much in a relationship is about feeling, there’s also a lot of doing and becoming. You may have to do more to make the other person feel loved, and you may have to become someone better in order to both give and receive love.
Finally, develop an action plan. Write down daily actions you intend to do in a plan just as you would to support any important goal you have, from financial success to weight loss. One easy way is to do an AOK a day. This might seem mechanical at first but it’s especially helpful at the start. The idea is, just as it might be with exercise or a healthy Lifestyle, you first develop a habit, try to enjoy it, and then becomes automatic and natural.
2. A Day of Celebrating What You Already Have
You can be happy in a relationship for so long that you forget it’s something worthy of celebration. It’s like a rich person who sometimes forgets that he should feel blessed, grateful and more patient and sympathetic towards people who have less.
In this case Valentine’s Day isn’t a day to treat a loved one specially. You’ve already done that consistently. Rather, it’s a celebration of how happy your relationship has been and a reminder that you have something special that isn’t always the case for anyone else.
This is what I think Valentine’s Day should be about. A check and a reminder of your love and relationship, where you take a day out to reflect and/ or be grateful, instead of being a special day you scramble, stress and spend in order to look good, fulfill expectations, and get approval.
Many people are special occasions people. For them, Valentine’s Day is the one day they remember to speak and act like their partner is the most important person in their world, showering them with love, affection, appreciation and consideration.
For you, make Valentine’s Day ordinary by doing that as many days as you can.
Don’t be an ordinary person who behaves in an extraordinary way on special occasions.
Be an extraordinary person who behaves in an ordinary way every day.
But make that “ordinary” of such a high calibre that every day for your loved one is like a Valentine’s day for others.