This is the day when everyone runs out and buys half-price Valentine’s chocolates, am I right?
Not me. Life is too short to eat cruddy, stale candy. I like heart-shaped stuff and I love Valentine’s Day, but I don’t care for supermarket chocolate.
I’m glad, though. I’m glad there is some consolation for the haters. Whereas, after all the decades I have been exhausted by two-month Christmases, all I get is decorations left up until February.
Why is there so much sympathy for the Valentine’s cynics and none at all for the Grinch crowd?
As a divorced person married to another divorced person, it’s not like I have no inkling of imperfect matches or bad romance in general. My ex was pretty good at the romantic stuff. He was a phenomenal cook and a great gift-giver. Once he got me this super fluffy white bathrobe that I kept long after we split up.
Nothing on the traditional romance checklist could have kept us together, though. Fundamentally, I don’t think my ex ever actually liked me as a person.
Did I like him? In that way? I dunno. Honestly it never occurred to me to ask myself that.
This is my only real grievance with the marketing around Valentine’s Day. And it’s the commercial aspect that’s the problem, I’m convinced of that. If all we attend to are the ads, we’ll get more or less the same message that we get around any other holiday.
BUY THEIR AFFECTION AND GRATITUDE
There’s an annoying stereotype around every holiday, starting with the New Year. Get drunk and start your new year with a splitting headache! Buy red roses, conflict diamonds, and child-slavery bonbons for your love interest! Burn breakfast for Mom! Cause explosions after dark, for patriotism!
It goes on. I’m stopping before Halloween, though, because at least one thing in this world must remain pure and true and that is the mass wearing of costumes while eating candy and watching scary movies.
But doesn’t that describe Valentine’s Day, in its own way?
Put on flattering clothes that you would normally never wear, eat sweets, and maybe watch a “romantic comedy”?
I’ve been with the same person for fifteen years. I just leaned over and asked him:
“Have we ever watched a rom-com together?”
“I don’t usually put those things in memory.”
(AHA! I thought as much. If we’ve ever watched a movie with a romance in it, it was probably a standard screwball comedy that happened to have a couple get together at the end).
It is my considered opinion that “romantic comedies” do not reflect reality and that following the plot of any of them would not lead to an actual relationship.
Romance novels? Even worse. I have yet to meet someone I would consider happily married who is also a consumer of romance novels. The most dedicated romance readers I have known are single and like it that way.
What does it take to feel like you’ve won the romance lottery, that you’re in a long-term relationship with someone who actually makes your knees weak? Someone you would still choose over all others?
Friendship first and foremost. I don’t know why this is such a mystery. I know several pairs of friends whom I think would make fantastic married couples, and why they don’t just go for it is known only to themselves.
A paradox, second. What has created the cloud of romance in which we live is the straightforward pragmatism with which we negotiated our union.
Total transparency with money.
A full accounting of all our past relationships and where we messed up.
Official business meetings, complete with an agenda and business jargon.
This is part of why we’re a good match, because we’re both able to dork out on the same stuff.
Of course, the other part is that we know we can trust and respect each other. We started out by comparing value systems. While we don’t necessarily share the precise same ethical position on all or most things, I think we both have a good understanding of each other’s position.
Based on that foundation, we’ve gone out and tested ourselves. We’ve ventured into the wilderness together, we’ve done the “wing-it method” in other countries where we didn’t speak the language, we’ve handled one goldarn crisis after another, been broke and confused and stressed out, and at this point he’s even kept me alive through this stupid pandemic.
Have we ever bought each other roses? No
Heart-shaped box of chocolates? No
Written each other poems or love letters? ...well, *I* have
I did buy him a nice anvil one year. Which he loved, of course.
We’re allowed to do things our own way. We’re allowed to choose what we think love means, for ourselves, and we’re even allowed to talk about it from time to time. Anyone else who finds it annoying when a couple is sweet on each other, check yourself.
Do you suppose that perhaps your attitude is the reason why you don’t have a happy love relationship?
Do you prefer it when other people openly bicker and make their quarrels the center of social gatherings?
*shrug* have it your way
A two-person union isn’t the only way to do things. It is a way for a lot of people, though. I’m convinced that in a lot of ways it can be a shortcut to personal growth, to have this other person to call you out on your BS and remind you who you are in times of difficulty.
No matter what the world may think, there is space for two people to create a private universe and step into it, hand in hand.
Romance is pragmatic in this way. It’s just so darn useful to have that other person around, for wise counsel and sympathy and boosterism and sometimes making the breakfast.
The trouble is, to *have* that person you have to *be* that person. This is why it’s so important to nail the pragmatic parts. To figure out your partner’s love language and check those boxes, especially the acts of service. To be the good and decent roommate. To be endlessly considerate and courteous, even when the other person is being annoying. To put in the time every year to think of something that would really please and delight your partner.
Romance is work. It takes mental effort. Probably 80% of it consists of indisputable chores and drudgery.
Ah, but the payoff. Love, sweet love, the best way to live and the best form of revenge.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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