For the past 15 years, my husband and I have vehemently opposed celebrating Valentine’s Day. I’ve had someone once ask me if it was to save myself the disappointment of not getting flowers or candy, to which I’ve responded, no— it’s not some reverse-psychology tactic which has contributed to my feelings about this day, but rather, a sadness that a beautiful thing such as love has been commoditized and commercialized into a holiday of obligatory gift-giving and hurt feelings of disappointment. Scrolling through social media today, I see the perfectly-framed photos of flowers delivered to people’s places of work, gifts received, and public statements of love. In providing couples counselling, I’ve learned that this holiday has the power to make a person feel special and loved, or disappointed and angry. What it seems to all boil down to is the quality of the outward, superficial display of affection; the successful creation of the image that the grass is greener on my side.
So what does real love look like, then? First, it is my opinion that real love isn’t what we see on TV and in movies, and isn’t a whimsical and effortless thing that just happens. Real love is a choice. Real love is hard, and requires hard work. It requires us to love one another unconditionally, it requires clear communication of expectations, as well as mutual respect and desire to improve one another’s life. This sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? The wonderful thing is that like anything in life, with practice, it becomes second nature, and the results are well worth the effort. Don’t let the calendar tell you when to spend time with your partner and do nice things, make the choice to do this every day.