The patterns and rhythms of our lives make it easy to forget what day it is—for many it can feel like our days simply blend together. Mondays feel no different from Tuesdays which seem to blur into Wednesdays and so on. Sometimes our days are distinguished solely by whether it’s a work-day or a day off.
To break up this existential monotony (the chronic repetitiveness of the ordinary), we identify certain days as more important than others, imbuing these days with elevated meaning and specialness (an anniversary, holiday, birthday). These “special” days have the power to renew and energize our spirits, demanding that we recognize the uniqueness of our lives, challenging us to look at ourselves and our relationship with new, appreciative eyes.
And as far as special days go, for many couples Valentine’s Day is at the top of the list.
The Power, Allure and Pitfalls of Valentine’s Day
Over the next couple of weeks there will be a glut of Internet and magazine articles suggesting how couples can take steps to acknowledge and celebrate their love. The phrase “Valentine’s day ideas” receives over a half-million Internet searches a month—clearly there are a staggering number of spouses, partners and lovers seeking ways to celebrate their marriage/relationship.
Celebrating the love you and your spouse/partner share is a very good thing—relationships are nourished and emotional bounds fed and renewed when this occurs.
Valentine’s Day forces us to place our marriage/relationship at the center stage of our life; it’s the day where the typical excuses (about being too busy, too stressed, too [fill in the blank]) seem downright pathetic and just plain wrong. It’s the day where, despite the dents and dings that exist in your relationship, the love you and your spouse/partner share will have an opportunity to shine. Couples need this, relationships need this, we all need this.
If you’re in love, Valentine’s Day is one of those days that is set apart from the mundaneness of other days that can engulf a marriage/relationship.
The commercialization of love (Valentine’s Day is big business) and the marketing designed to offer couples a means to express their deepest feelings, however, has the potential to create (like all mass marketing) a mass-sameness, where prepackaged, rote (and therefore meaningless) expressions of love replace self-reflective, self-expressive, heart-felt proclamations of love.
Nothing says “I really didn’t try” than a nondescript box of chocolates purchased—last minute—at the drugstore while you’re picking up a prescription (and you’re only reminded because the cashier and the person ahead of you in line are talking about what day it is).
The danger for all of us is that it’s easy to become lazy about love, even on the day set apart to celebrate this magical experience—marketers and big business have made it convenient for us to mindlessly reach for one of the myriad of gifts that now have come to represent romantic love (a card we didn’t write, the number of carats in a diamond, expensive champagne). While we all search for ways to express the love we feel for our spouse/partner (which may include external objects that symbolize our love), the mass commercialization of romance can never do justice to the profound and mysterious nature of love.
Love promises us so much: transformation, deep connection, meaning, happiness, renewed aliveness….
Whether these promises are realized or not, we all yearn for love’s potential to make our lives better in some way. Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate the gifts that your partner’s love have brought to your life; for some, it’s a time of awakening a relationship’s forgotten potential by acknowledging that the relationship has grown a little stale and is need of some attention.
- How will you and your spouse/partner celebrate the love you share this Valentine’s Day?
- Will the celebration mainly involve the typical commercialized trappings?
- Can you imagine something more for you and your spouse/partner?
Imagine for a moment, that the typical way in which millions of couples celebrate Valentine’s Day ceased to exist.
…there were no gifts that could be purchased for Valentine’s Day—no prepackaged, store-bought items that are designed to communicate your feelings about your partner.
…the goal of each Valentine’s Day were to create/find a novel way to express the love you each have for one another, and the only medium you could use was yourself: Your words (spoken or written), your touch (non-sexual or sexual), something you create, or some activity you feel captures the essence of your love for one another.
Let me clarify: choosing to go the commercial route and purchasing something for your partner on Valentine’s Day is not an inherently bad thing. The question is whether you stop there and let the item do all the talking about what your partner means to you, or whether you make a conscious effort to express what only you can.
Here’s to making every day Valentine’s Day!
Dr. Rich Nicastro