Last night – lying in bed, about to turn out the light – I asked my husband “Do you remember where we were 20 years ago tonight?”
I didn’t see the look of panic on his face but I’m sure it was there. As it is for any man when his wife starts a sentence with “Do you remember when…”
We had spent most of this Valentine’s Day apart – him working on a construction project and me handling kid duties – we had dinner as a family and got the kids into bed and then settled down to watch The Walking Dead.
So…not really a romantic evening. I wasn’t disappointed but it got me thinking about the past and what Valentine’s Day used to mean.
Because 20 years ago – on our first Valentine’s Day together – it was all about romance. We were 18 years old – oh my god! – and I was so excited that he was taking me out for a fancy dinner at the Sutton Place Hotel. (Hubby remembered by the way…phew.)
I got all dressed up, he got all dressed up, he brought me roses, he opened my car door, he held my hand as we walked into the fancy restaurant and were seated at our little corner table. It was so god damned high brow that I couldn’t quite believe we were even allowed to be there.
It was a great night. I loved every minute of it. I felt loved and happy and spoiled.
We celebrated in similar style – dinners out, roses, occasionally booking a night a swanky hotel – for many more years. And then – as they tend to do – our Valentine’s Day plans changed with the arrival of kids.
And when that happened I remember thinking that our love as a couple – and an “us” – didn’t need to be celebrated anymore. We were beyond that. Above it actually…as though with the arrival of our first born our love status was now elevated above those that were just “couples”.
I even wrote this post about the evolution of Valentine’s Day in 2013 that included this line: “Now before you feel sad for me and think the spark has gone out of my marriage…don’t worry it hasn’t. We just don’t need a specific day to say I Love You.”
Oh how wrong I was. Just a few months later I would be faced with that exact reality. That the love had gone out of my marriage and in actual fact we needed more than one specific day to say I Love You. We needed to say it just once and really mean it. Really feel it.
Luckily we made it through that dark time and are working our way back to love. And that experience has given me a new outlook on Valentine’s Day. While I still think there is a commercial aspect of the holiday that warrants disdain…the basic premise behind the day is an important one.
It is essentially all about celebrating love. And I know now that love not only should be celebrated but it should also never be taken for granted. Love should never be assumed in any relationship no matter how long you have been together.
Love might not take work but it takes nurturing and attention. And days like this provide a perfect opportunity for that to happen.
So next Valentine’s Day I think I just might be dropping some not so subtle hints that I like roses and getting dressed up. Sacrifices must be made…