After Christmas and New Years, and dare I say, even before they end, Valentine’s Day promotions are everywhere: romantic dinner specials at local restaurants, (side note- Valentine’s Day is the worst day for dinner reservations) shopping sales at major department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom, and a plethora of cards, candy, and décor at Walgreens, Target, and Walmart. A few weeks ago, when I was at a Walmart, I was overwhelmed by four aisles of Valentine’s décor, baking, stationery, and gifts. While I did not give into buying the heart-decorated table linens (table linens being my personal weakness) or the heart-shaped silicone cookie molds, I could not pass on heart-shaped treat bags and the thought of giving little oranges to Ilse and all her classmates at daycare. However, now that Valentine’s Day has come and gone, I wonder, “Do we really need a special day to remind us to demonstrate our love for each other?”
Growing up, I learned about Valentine’s Day at school. I made crafts and sent cards to my classmates. We wore red outfits to school. As we hit middle school and high school, we bought candy gram or flower grams and sent them to our crushes and first loves. Who didn’t enjoy the surprise of a candy gram in the middle of class? Given the time spent on giving these to our classmates or our crushes, no one talked about the importance of demonstrating our love for each other every day versus just one day out of the year. Had there been an ongoing discussion about a daily expression of love, perhaps the pressure to “get love” and “be loved” might not have been so taxing.
This is even more so, as we become parents, because our lives become encompassed by our children. Time is not solely ours, as it belongs to the family as whole. It’s all too easy to be swept away in the rigors of the daily, family routine. If you are like me, where both you and your spouse work, you’re also balancing work schedules with weekend social schedules. Nevertheless, it certainly does not mean we can stop making time for our partners or spouses. In fact, we need to make more time for them and prioritize them the way we prioritize other things in our lives, even schedule time on a calendar (which seems a little boring, but sometimes it’s the only way to ensure time together).
Besides making time, it’s also important to remember and do the little things every day, like ask your spouse how his/her day went, share a funny thing you saw on BART, or thank the other for dinner. Relationships take work. Doing something every day to enhance our relationships matters more in the long run than just celebrating a commercial holiday. My best example of this is my own relationship with my husband. This year, my husband and I will have been together sixteen years. While solo nights out are few and far between, we still manage to spend time together, even if alone time is limited to our coffee klatch at 5:30 AM and the few ours we have together after our daughter sleeps at 9 PM. As tired as we each are after long days at work, we take the time to say “I love you” and “thank you” every day. To quote a dear godfather, “Every day is Valentine’s Day.” Demonstrating our love for each other should happen every day, not just on a special holiday.