I’ll put this out there, I like Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure that I love it, with the extravagance and the pressure, but I like it.
The first connection between St. Valentine’s Day and romance in literature, that I am aware of, is in Chaucer’s The Parlement of Foules. For that reason, in the first Valentine’s card that I sent to my now husband I quoted that poem. Valentine’s day in those early years of courtship was a time to send each other little notes, with the emphasis being on the personal rather than over-blown extravagant purchases. In fact the early years of our relationship were like that. My husband lived in Sheffield and, at the time, I lived in our birth town of Leamington Spa. We never went more than 3 weeks without seeing each other, and as our relationship grew we saw each other every weekend. I lived for those weekends, snuggled up in his arms, watching a film, or venturing out to a symphony hall to listen to a concert. The week days were important too, though. He’d send me funny postcards that he’d find when he was out and about, I’d write him poetry and send it with confetti or sparkly hearts. We never missed an anniversary, we organised birthday celebrations for each other with friends and our years were happily interspersed by long weekend trips away to cities like Paris, Zurich and Venice.
Fast forward to today, married eight years, three children and countless sleepless nights later we now high five each other when we make it through a day with all limbs intact, 50 percent of chores done and a hot meal consumed whilst still fresh. In fact, chuck in making it through a week without some sort of argument or successfully balancing appointments, meetings, after school clubs and quality family time and we feel that we’re positively winning at life.
So my point? Nowadays I get presents as an afterthought. It is rare that my husband remembers Valentine’s Day and he has even begun to forget our wedding anniversary. My birthday can be a hurriedly thrown together affair, and little gifts and notes that used to punctuate our relationship are long gone. We’ve never had time away with each other without our children, we rarely even go out for a meal or a drink together and our evenings are regularly interrupted by the boys needing one thing or another, or our dog wedged in between us on the sofa. But it isn’t that which defines us as a couple. For all the romance that you see in the retail stores, for all the Hollywood movies that are shot through rose tinted glasses, the reality is that it is the little everyday things that make the real difference. That remind us how much we love each other. The bath that he runs because I’m sore and exhausted. The last minute day of annual leave that he takes so that I can spend the day in bed recovering from yet another bug. The meal that I prepare for us when he gets home after a long day in the office. The stresses that I take on to manage our home so that he can devote more hours and attention to his work project. You may not see these things in the latest blockbuster movie, but focus on them in your relationship and I suspect that you will find comfort and, hopefully, happiness. Valentine’s Day, to me, is that gentle nudge, that subtle reminder, of all these little things that make the great things happen.
What works for you to keep your relationship special? I’d love to know! Do let me know in the comments below.