Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

I am not a huge fan of Valentines Day, the "meh" of which goes back as far as high school.  The high school speech class would sell carnations as a fundraiser  (red meant "I love you", pink meant "I'm glad we're friends", and white meant "I'd like to get to know you better" - how sad that I still remember that!)  and even though I never went a year without several carnations, the whole scenario rubbed me the wrong way.  For one thing, it became a floral popularity contest.  For another, there was always someone who didn't get any (although the home room teachers would often buy a "friend" carnation for the kid no one else thought of).  I also hated it because I hate selling anything, let alone a person's high school "worth" in the form of a flower.  And now I see just how sexist the whole premise is.  As the mom of sons, I resent the thought of how much hard earned cash those insecure high school boys had to shell out to make some girl feel special.

(Gee, can you tell I hated this idea?)

Mark and I began dating in February, so you would think we really set a high standard for Valentines Day from the get go, but we didn't.  And I am so glad.  While I love flowers and chocolates and jewelry as much as the next gal, it loses some of its allure when forced by the date on a calendar.  I'm not one of those "I hate Valentines Day because it is a Hallmark manufactured holiday" folks (although I agree with them), but the acts and words of love that mean the most to me are the ones that happen in the everyday. I love that Mark (who works from a home office now most days) spends his lunch break sitting at the kitchen table with me, eating lunch and playing rummy.  I love that he will take a turn with a sick child in the middle of the night.  I love that we laugh our heads off with so many inside jokes we are probably hard to be around.  That's the good stuff.

But in the spirit of holiday cheer, I will still wish you all a Happy Valentines Day.  And here is my advice for anyone still looking for their Valentine-for-life when it comes to finding that one, true love...

1.  Be yourself.  At first you'll try to be the best yourself you can be, but don't ever think a relationship will flourish if you do a personality switcharoo right after the wedding.  Who you are is the right mate for someone very special.

2.  Really think about that "for better or worse" line.  You probably have an idea what their better looks like.  What about their "worse"?  How does he/she handle stress, disappointment, frustration?  Mark and I just recently went through our worse (so far...heaven help us...), and I love him even more for the character he's shown through the worse than who he is in our better.  (And he is a great guy in the better!)

3.  You ARE NOT a spinster if you are 25 and unmarried.  I come from an area where most people marry young.  I was 26 when I married Mark, and let me tell you, looking back that was plenty young.  (He was 22.  Sure glad no one gave him this advice when we were dating!)  Who I am at nearly 38 is in so many ways, very different than who I was at 25.  (Thank the good Lord above for that fact.)  I am, in fact, way cooler now.  I was the last of my friends to get married, and at times I thought I had missed my window. Now when I watch episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress" I shudder at the brides who roll in at 20, 22, and even 24 years old seemingly totally self assured about how life will be.  I have seen too much in my life and in the lives of my friends to believe for a second that the right wedding dress guarantees anything.  Take your time.  Don't settle.  Don't try to make something fit.  With a spouse or a dress.

4.  Have realistic expectations. There is no knight in shining armor.  If you see one, whack him with a stick.  I am as in love with my husband as anyone (I mean as anyone is with their spouse.  Not with my spouse.  Otherwise...awkward...), and there are still times when I want to pull my hair out with frustration.  Not trying to be a downer here, but dating is for dating and marriage is for marriage.  And the marriage part is amazing!  We aren't less romantic now, we love each other more effectively.  It just looks different.  Anyone you love will have days they are impatient, drive too fast/slow for your taste, and leave the toilet seat up.  That is life.  But life - plain old regular life -  with the right person is an absolute joy!

Of course, I am only nearly 12 years into this marriage deal, and I am sure I will one day look back at this post and think of how naive I was!  One of the greatest thing about getting older is that you generally get wiser.  (The downside?  The cool dagger tattoo you once got now looks more like a spatula...)  I can't wait to grow older and wiser with my Valentine...even if we don't celebrate it on February 14th.

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