Well, here we are, the next-to-last of a string of holidays I dread. I dread them because of commercialism and because of the rampant consumerism that seems to go with them. The last, buy the way (yes, that is deliberate) is St. Patrick’s Day, but that’s another rant.
It’s a day to show your beloved that you love them. To gift them with things and to let them see how much you care.
And every year part of me goes “WTF??? Why do we need a day to show love???”
I can understand that it probably developed out of things like fertility rituals, handfasting days, renewal of marriage contracts, things like that, but it’s turned into a day where chocolate and flowers go on the Endangered Species List for a while.
With this same commercialism comes the impression that people are only romantic on this day, and no other. That if it weren’t for Valentine’s Day, no one would be shown any appreciation for what they do, how much they are loved, or how they are cared for by the people around them.
Here’s the problem I have with that; if this is a day where we show each other how much we love them, why do we only have ONE day to do it? Why not have a month, or a season, or even a whole year?
I love my wife. Anyone who has read stuff I write should be able to pick that fact out without effort. She is the center of my universe and I achieve what I do, the Herculean efforts I make to secure all that I have, I have done to bring a smile to her face. Not things that are transient, not things that are inconsistent, not one time “I love you so I killed this dragon” kind of things, but real achievements. We are buying a house because she wants a place where she can call it her own. I have changed and grown up because she saw a flaw in me, so I improved it. Never heard of a stone correcting a crack because the sculptor saw the crack, have you?
Robert Heinlein defined Love in his book “Stranger in a Strange Land”. In there, one of the main characters said “Love is that condition in which the happiness of another is essential to your own.” That is the most succinct and to the point definition I have ever heard, and it needs to be repeated to everyone. Love is not selfish, it is not jealousy, it is not combative rage, and it is not shoving away. Love is where the happiness of Mary is CRITICAL to me being happy. If she is upset I cannot be happy.
There are days when I can’t make her happy, and I suffer a lot. There are also days when nothing I do makes things better. But for the most part, by simply being aware of her emotions and her mental state, I can help make her contented and/or happy. And since I cannot be happy unless she is….
Basically it’s about not taking advantage of her, understanding when she’s going to be having a bad day, not being “offline” due to emotions when she is, and being considerate. It’s also about appreciating her all the time.
Some decisions I have made cause her distress simply because they are not how she would have done them, and some of those backfire on me. I have to step up and take responsibility and try to make it right. I also have a duty to try not to make fun of her (mainly by saying “I told you so”) when decisions she made blow up in our face.
A marriage, a relationship that is romantically based, should ideally be a PARTNERSHIP. All parts equally important to the whole, all working together to make the goals of the group come true. After that, then you can focus on the individual with equal emphasis. If I worked my butt off to get a house, and she is working her butt off to get a house, and we combine our efforts equally, once the house is obtained, then I can focus on taking her to a restaurant she wants to go to, and she can focus on buying me that side of leather I want to make things out of.
To this end, communication, open and HONEST communication, is a critical component. That and honest sharing and showing of affection, not fakery by bringing a box of chocolates or a diamond pendant or a car to her on one day from the year, and ignoring her the rest. You have to make this an ongoing process.
In the movie Phenomenon, there is a scene where the Doctor (played by Robert Duvall) reads the riot act to a bunch of inconsiderate jerks. He says:
Banes: [speaking about George’s transformation] He never really changed at all. Isn’t that right Doc? I mean he never really got any smarter. Doc?
Doc: Banes… how’s your lady love?
Banes: We… um… we broke up.
Doc: Really? That’s too bad, yeah. Now George has a love at his side and she is sticking with him. You know why? Because he bought her chairs. That’s pretty smart to me. You ever buy Lisa’s chairs?’
Banes: Doc’s real drunk tonight.
Doc: Every woman has her chair, something she needs to put herself into, Banes. You ever figure out what Lisa’s chairs were and buy ’em?
Doc: Nope. But, you’re right about one thing, George never changed.
I think that is the most profound statement about relationships you can find. Accurate too. I found her chairs. I buy them.