Valentine’s Day brings up a mixture of feelings for many spouses. For some, it’s a happy day, full of anticipation and fun. But for others, it’s a painful reminder of what’s missing in their marriage.
If you and your spouse are having serious marriage problems or even just an unresolved minor tiff, Valentine’s Day can present a challenge. It’s hard for wives to watch co-workers receive bouquets of roses at work and to hear friends talk about special dinner plans and other romantic gestures from their husbands when they’re not in the same situation.
It’s also difficult for husbands who want to show love and affection but are stymied by their wife’s lack of response or passion. Pictures of Cupid with his arrow are everywhere in advertisements, along with heart-shaped candy and romantic cards.
Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a celebration time for lovers. But what if you’re in an unhappy marriage or your relationship with your spouse leaves much to be desired this year? What can you do?
The following eight tips can help you to make the best of the situation in a way that leaves you feeling like a winner. There’s a real art to making lemonade out of lemons, and here’s how to get started:
1. Keep Valentine’s Day in perspective. It gets a lot of publicity at the time, but remember that it’s only one day of the year. As the saying goes, “This too shall pass.” On February 15th, it’s all over except for the half-price left-over Valentine’s candy in the drug store.
2. Remember that just because it looks like others have wonderful or desirable marriages and attentive, loving spouses doesn’t make it so. If you could see behind the scenes, you’d see that the truth is often very different from the exterior appearance. Just because a spouse gives the partner a flashy Valentine’s gift doesn’t mean the marriage is healthy and satisfying.
3. Plan ahead so that you have some fun activities for the day or evening. If things are strained with your spouse, plan a special lunch or dinner with a close friend. Or you might decide to see a movie or have a massage after work. Be proactive about making plans and schedule something you’ll look forward to.
4. Give yourself a Valentine’s Day present. Gifts to consider include a new CD, a book, clothing, sports equipment, a facial, a session with a personal trainer, or enrollment in a gym or night class. While you’re at it, buy a bouquet of tulips or other fresh flowers to brighten up your house or office.
5. Pamper yourself. Slow down and take time for yourself in the little ways that count. Eat well, get enough rest, slow the pace down, and build in some relaxation time. Be good to yourself–you deserve it. Don’t forget to laugh. Be your own valentine and treat yourself with love and respect.
6. Count your love blessings. Make a list of all the people who show their love and caring for you throughout the year. Include family and friends, as well as the neighbor who always volunteers to feed your cat when you’re out of town and the co-worker who looks out for your interests. Then take a moment to savor the feeling of gratitude for being so richly blessed.
7. Send cards, notes, emails, or phone messages to the people in your life who are your “loved ones.” Remember how much fun it used to be when you were a child to get valentine cards and little candy hearts with messages such as “I Love You” or “Be my Friend”? Find a way to express your caring and gratitude to the special people on your “Love Blessings” list. You’ll make their day!
8. Let your love, caring, and compassion for others shine brightly in everything you say or do on Valentine’s Day. Give the gift of yourself to others all day long. Print out the following quotes and read them throughout the day to remind you of the power of love and giving:
“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” –Mother Teresa
“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”
–James Matthew Barrie
“Each time anyone comes into contact with us, they must become different and better people because of having met us…we have been created in order to love and to be loved. Love does not measure…it just gives.” –Mother Teresa
The underlying message is that you don’t have to wait until your marriage is problem-free to enjoy Valentine’s Day. Even more importantly, the bigger picture is that you don’t have to wait until your marriage is perfect to enjoy life. Now that’s something to celebrate!