I’ve shared before that Valentine’s Day has been a dilemma in our house for 26 years now. Of course, I don’t mean this house; we’ve only lived in this house for 12 years… but for the 26 years that we’ve been married, as of this Valentine’s Day. Yes, we got married on Valentine’s Day, in 1987. Take a moment to either gag or coo. I know it warrants one or the other, depending on the moment (for me) or who is reading this. I will not rehash all the details again this year; you can read last year’s blog for that, and see the coo worthy photos, including my wedding pictures (Understatement of The Quarter Century, Or My Funny Valentine). There are a lot of Valentine’s blogs floating around out there, and given that it’s my anniversary, I felt like at least giving the day a wink and a nod.
I’ll say it again, because it’s a critical point: we did not get married on Valentine’s Day to be romantic. We did not get married on Valentine’s Day on purpose. You read that right; we didn’t even realize it would be Valentine’s Day, when we made the decision. Plain and simple, we got married on Valentine’s Day because we had a long weekend off from medical and grad school, and more importantly we got married on Valentine’s Day to stop our parents from running amok on our wedding plans. Old history, but man the story still gives me the willies. We were kids, and we were in way over our heads with our parents and their expectations, their desires, and what was happening with our day. So Smart Guy grabbed the reigns (bless his Valentine’s heart) and suggested February 13th (6 weeks away, at the time), and I—not even wondering if a wedding could be planned and pulled of in 6 weeks, while in a grueling Masters program— said yes. When I realized that thee 13th was Friday the 13th, that was not going to happen. I am a superstitious girl, all the way around. We agreed on the 14th, without even realizing what we were doing. Once we’d put our foot down (on all those red hearts), there was no turning back.
Fast forward through twenty-six Valentine’s Day and the day now sends waves of anxiety through both me and Smart Guy, every year. What do you want to do for our anniversary? “Where do you think we can get a reservation?” And given the pressure on everyone else out there, who didn’t get married on this red hot day, we’d better be thinking waaaay ahead, if we want it to be special. It’s exhausting! It’s frustrating! It is not romantic. The stress outweighs the fun of planning, each year. Last year for our 25th, an anniversary that we both thought would be celebrated in Palau, or somewhere special, was spent at home: with 2 exchange students in the house, and just weeks after my mother died. It was not the occasion we’d anticipated. That night, we had dinner with a group of close friends and gave the day its due, but it was not entirely what we’d envisioned, for several years leading up to the occasion.
This year, we’re taking it easy. Dinner with friends— still in the planning stage. As little pressure as possible. After 26 years of marriage, and more than 30 years together, we’re focusing on making the marriage better, not celebrating a number. We’re ignoring all those red hearts and candy commercials, and addressing the next twenty-five years: what can we do to make it stronger? What’s next, with the kids gone (or almost gone) and our lives in transition? What do we each want now (individually and as a couple), in our 50s, versus what we wanted in our twenties, when we fell in love. It’s big stuff, and we’re taking a good hard look and choosing to not gloss over any of it with red.
I’ve read a dozen posts this week about Valentine’s Day: you love it, you hate it. We can all agree: it’s commercial and it can be overwhelming, the pressure and expectations of a day that should be about love. Shouldn’t every day be about love? Shouldn’t we do many of these things just because we want our relationships to be meaningful and honored? If I had it to do all over again, would I? Some of it yes, and some of it no, if truth be told. But hindsight is 20/20. I would change one thing for sure: We’d pick another day.
What’s your take on Valentine’s Day? Romantic or pressure? Embrace it or gag on it? Share your thoughts. Show some love, in honor of the day, and Like this post. Check out Tales From the Motherland on Facebook, and hit like.