My Valentine’s Day PSA

February 12, 2013

I love “love”. I am head over heels in love with my husband and love every opportunity to celebrate the blessing that our relationship is to me. I mean, an anniversary, valentine’s day, a random Monday, you name it, I’m for it. My husband and I celebrated our very first Valentine’s day 9 years ago. I had to babysit my little brother (who is now a senior in high school. gah.) so I made a pasta dinner at my parent’s house and we have continued that tradition ever since. That makes things pretty simple: if we eat the same meal at home every year, it takes quite a bit of the pressure off such a highly commercial day. Know what didn’t change the first few years we were married? My expectations for the rest of the day, including surprises and gifts.

You know the scene all too well. I say, “I don’t want you to get me anything for Valentine’s Day” and so, being an attentive husband, he doesn’t. Well, come Valentine’s Day I’m all huffy puffy because all I can think is that he didn’t want to get me something. Never mind the fact that I specifically asked him not to and he respected my wishes, I thought it should have been the desire of his heart to get me something anyway. Fast forward to the next year. I again say, “don’t get me anything” and because he remembers my ridiculous response from the last year, he goes out and gets me some flowers and a little necklace from Target. Valentine’s Day comes and he is so excited to surprise me! Only, guess what?  This time I really meant that I didn’t want him to get me anything. So you can just vision it,  now I’m upset because I didn’t get him anything (and he didn’t listen to me!) and there goes the night again. Ugh. I can hardly handle stories of young married Bethany. What a drama queen.

Before staying home with my boys, I saw clients for therapy. Among these clients, were married couples. Want to know what almost every problem or point of discord boiled down to? Lack of communication. Or maybe I should say, lack of proper communication. We are all so guilty of miscommunication and our fast paced, distracting, technology filled world doesn’t do us any favors. But, never fear! Because I love y’all and want you to have a wonderful Valentine’s Day this Thursday, I’m going to do my best to help you fight for your marriage and for your love day.

1) Mean what you say and say what you mean. If you really do not want presents, be open about that. If you really do want a present, be open about that. Start with something like this,

“Hey hon. I know Valentine’s day is this Thursday and I just wanted you to  know that I really do {not} want to do gifts this year but…”

As you’ll notice, this is a two part sentence. First you relay your expectations about gifts (or dinner or suprises, etc) and the second half you give a glimpse into what is important to you,  likely the most important part of the sentence. Maybe you don’t want your husband to purchase a gift but you would love a note or letter, tell him. Maybe you do want your husband to buy you a gift but you don’t want it to be over $20 and you don’t want flowers. Tell him. Maybe you really want a new pair of earrings as that gift. Tell him. Maybe you’d love his undivided attention away from a phone or ipad. Tell him.

For some reason, when we were first married, I felt like my husband should have been the perfect mind reader and if I had to tell him what I wanted then it wasn’t as special. Really, Bethany? Why should he suddenly have this magical ability to read my mind? And since when is someone listening to what you have to say and following through with it not special? Truly, what a treasure to have a spouse that cares about your desires! Full, meaningful communication is so important in your relationship. Find what you really desire this Thursday (or any day, honestly) and be open about it. You’d be surprised at the pressure it takes off of both of you.

2)Do not compare. Comparison is the thief of all joy. If my friends husband sends her to the spa, buys her a diamond necklace and then takes her out to dinner then good for them. It does not take one ounce of love away from my relationship. Focus on you and your spouse. Period.

3) Give him grace. Our society (and pinterest) puts a lot of pressure on us as husbands and wives to do amazing, never before thought of things for eachother. Who can live up to these standards over and over again? Holiday after holiday, year after year? I know that some of us express ourselves  easier than others and while it may be easy for you to plan,decorate or purchase 10 amazing things for Valentine’s day, it may be difficult for your spouse. Tip #1 can help immensely, but we are all human and we all so desperately need grace. Maybe he doesn’t pick out the earrings you really like, but you can be thankful he took the time to pick out and purchase you earrings. Maybe he doesn’t gush over you in a 10 page note but you can be thankful he did take the time to write you a card. Maybe he doesn’t have the time or resources to buy you something but he did remember to say Happy Valentine’s Day and I love you. Those precious moments and gifts are worth treasuring.

Take heart and fight for your marriage. Take an active role. Be open and honest about the expectations in your marriage every day, as well as on Valentine’s Day. Because when it comes down to it, you should never let the expectations of an overly marketed day distract you from the gift God has given you in each other.

*this message mostly applies to those in a mutually respected relationship. If Valentine’s Day is a tough day for you, my heart is heavy for you. I will have something especially geared to you on Thursday. Until then, know you are treasured, you are loved and I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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