It’s February, and Valentine’s Day has rolled around again. Time for the newly in love to celebrate their excitement and joy, the long-term committed to work on the passion and the sentiment – and those either without partners or in loveless relationships to bemoan their state and look enviously at those who seem to have it all.
The time I remember Valentine’s Day being exciting was as a teenager, waiting for the anonymous cards, either humorous or passionate, where the number received was at least as important as the individual card. It was with trepidation that cards were opened, as the messages were not always kind and the perpetrator not always identifiable. It was our big day of “social media”, before the coin was termed or the potential damage acknowledged. Valentine’s Day still plays that role, as so often the receipt (or not) of flowers and gifts is done publicly, revealing who has the most “likes” and who is just alone. Who needs Facebook or Instagram, when the flowers and cards on the desks of some lead others to be acutely aware of their lack of likes for the day?
If you do “like” someone, and want it to be more than just that – want them to know that the feeling is more personal and that they have meaning in your life – perhaps something more than the card and/or flowers is needed. Certainly, at some point you are going to have to discard the anonymity of being someone’s Valentine and try to make a truer connection. Valentine’s Day can be the reminder that it is important to show your beloved that you really love them but it is not a good policy to make it the only time in the year that you do that. Use it, in February, to plan the way you will express your loving feelings and gratitude to have your beloved in your life, all year.
Many people go out for a romantic meal on Valentine’s Day, or perhaps dim the lights, light candles and play soft music instead of staring at a screen over dinner at home. You could plot out the days in the calendar over the year, when you could have a screen-free, focused on each other and relationship, meal. Perhaps one night each week, fortnight or month? Just a time to connect and ensure you each know that you are working on caring for each other.
On Valentine’s Day, we often surprise our beloved with a gift. There may be other occasions in the year, unrelated to a particular occasion, when we can also do this and enjoy the look of delight on the other’s face.
There may even be opportunities on a daily basis to reflect on the message of “Saint Valentine” – attempt to show your partner, your mate, your team member, that your feelings are romantic and caring and that you admire them. Be opportunistic – look for times when you can actively listen and respond, when you can anticipate and meet their needs, when you can ease the stress and make the day better. In good enough relationships, that survive the tough times and move through to share the joys, we know we have each other’s backs. Our confidence in each other is bolstered through the little things we do for each other – not just on one day of the year but whenever we create the moments to remember and hold on to.
I like to think of it as money in the bank – show each other how important the relationship is when it is easy to do so and it will make it easier to stand by each other when times get harder. Each time you deposit a kind word, a special action, a smile, a loving touch, you build up each other’s resilience to stand firm in the tough times. It builds a sort of knowing – that “I am there for you and you are there for me, and together we can face anything”.
Thanks, St Valentine, for providing a one-day reminder to show love. Let’s create those shows of love throughout the days of 2020.