The Truth About Valentine’s Day

Photo by Jasmine Carter on Pexels.com

In the dark of night, under the cloak of secrecy, she said, “I do” to the man who had walked with her through the pain and terror and the excitement and laughter of the past two years.  Quietly, guided by the whispers of the Christian priest Valentine, he said, “I do,” with a silent prayer that it would not be for the last time.  In the morning he would be headed off to war – to battle – called to fight for Claudius II Gothicus, one he does not believe in for a cause he does not agree with, at the penalty of death. His only earthly light was the love of this woman beside him.  The least he could do was set her up to be taken care of should the unspeakable happen.

There are many stories behind the history of Valentine’s Day.  Some say it was because St. Valentine performed secrete marital ceremonies against Emperor Claudius II Gothicus’s decree against engagements and marriages in Rome.  Some say it was to Christianize the pagan celebration of Lupercalia (a celebration of purification and fertility).

Whatever the reason, the reality is we celebrate the day in practice as a way to celebrate those we love.  The day has become one to celebrate your significant other.  But, it is more than that. 

For those of us who have to spend days like this apart from our “better-halves” or for you single parents who are widowed, left, or worse, it is a day to remind you that you are alone. 

I do not think that is true.  I think this day is a great way to remember those who love you and those whom you love. It is a day to act in love, mercy, and kindness.  It is a day to remember that you are never alone.  A day to count your blessings.

In a social distancing world, where we have pitted ourselves against the other because of a sniffle or politics or the way we dress, this is a great time to remind ourselves that we all bleed the same.  We all cry, laugh, mourn and dance.  This is a time to change our hearts and practice what we preach – love.

Photo by Megapixelstock on Pexels.com

Here are some ways to bring more love into your marriage: 

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com
  1. Schedule priority time together. I have said this again and again….dating should not stop just because we said, “I do.” Dating should just be beginning. We change so much as we grow. Dating helps keep us connected to the changes of the other person. This is valuable invested time in the marriage. Pull out your calendars and set a date every week or two—just to spend time together and talk.
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

2. Laugh together. One of the reasons I married my awesome husband was he made me laugh.  That sounds cliché, but in reality, it is really hard to get me to laugh – much less guffaw.  Laughter truly is the best medicine and brings healing and bonding.  When was the last time you shared a funny story and chuckled with each other? We like finding little jokes and sharing them with each other (especially when we are apart for work).  As the song goes, “Girl, let your hair down.”  Laugh freely – give yourself permission.  Live lightheartedly!

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

3. Play together.  I love this one.  It is so easy to forget how to play as adults when faced with the reality of the world.  We get stuck in bills, taxes, doctor appointments, and dinner we forget how to play.  That childlike view of the world disappears.  Another reason I adore my husband, he makes it easy to find that child again.  We love to play together.  We especially like crating together (and yes, I will watch the stories of the video games he plays…they can be quite good).  I encourage you to find a hobby or activity you both enjoy: fishing, bowling, tennis, hiking, biking, crafting.  It is also ok to take turns on things only one of you enjoys and spend time doing what the other likes.  You learn a lot about your mate that way.

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

4. Be romantic together. It is no secret to those who know me well, I love words of affirmation.  I love hearing compliments.  I love quality time hanging out with Hubby.  My husband, on the other hand, loves gifts and service.  He feels most loved when something has been done for him or a special trinket arrives for him. Our love languages are different, but not incompatible.   For my birthday I asked my husband to write a letter, poem, or story of why he loves me.  For his Christmas present, I cleaned the garage and got him the gaming system he wanted.  Send your spouse a note of encouragement in the mail every once in a while, just to say, “I love you.” (I keep a list and little sticky notes around my office and bathroom of the romantic and uplifting things he has said to remind me on days that feel distant). When possible, spend one or two weekends away each year just with your spouse. (No buddies or children allowed.)

Photo by Panos Sakalakis on Pexels.com

5. Be grateful.  I was reminded this week how much we take for granted in marriage and in partnership.  It is easy in marriage to compare the circumstance of each other and think one has it harder than the other.  In reality, it is just as hard for your spouse as it is for you.  That is why love is a choice.  Love is work.  Love is patient. Love is kind.  Love keeps no records of wrongs.  So, say “Thank you” to your spouse.  You know you are not perfect.  They choose to love you anyway. They choose to work through your baggage with you.  They choose to walk through life with you.  So thank you.  Purpose your days to see all the things they do that make your life better and acknowledge that. 

While Valentine’s Day is a good time to put some spark into your relationship, the only way to fan the flame of a good relationship is for every day to have a Hallmark moment. 

What are you doing to fan the flame of your marriage?

6 Steps to Building Your Family Relationships This Holiday Season

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

I love the holidays.  I love the crisp air.  I love the tradition.  I love the colors.  I love the music. I love the time with my family.  I love spending hours trying to find the perfect gift.  I love the smells of great food only served during these special occasions.

But, I hate traffic.  I hate to travel.  I hate crowds.  I hate the demands of my family time.  Add in some COVID, a touch of election discussion, a dash of natural disasters, a splash of special needs, and the longer nights, and I find my exhaustion can (and sometimes does) lead to an attitude of complaining. I can lose focus on the good; I can (if I am honest), sometimes, even ignore those blessings right in front of me.

 I am so grateful for a husband who has helped me see this reality and the tips and tricks he has taught me to overcome this. I also know this is a year-round problem.  This is a lifestyle choice.  This is a daily choice.  So, here are some things my family uses to be grateful for the family and build our relationships.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Count Your Blessings: The first step to having a gratitude attitude is to count your blessings.  As the old adage goes, name them one by one. For some tips on how to make this a daily practice, take a look at these simple steps.  Recognizing that, even though this year has been exhausting, challenging, and all around, awful for pretty much everyone, there is still so much to be grateful for. Take some time to name all the reasons you love your family; how they help; how they have grown; how far you have come toward goals.

Building Lego Airplane and Airport

Spend Quality Time with your Family: We make it a practice to spend at least an hour a night hanging with our little one.  It doesn’t always happen, but we try to make it a priority most nights.  This is the time our son picks what we do (the things that interest him).  We get down on his level.  We laugh with him. We celebrate with him.  As he has grown, this time has become more and more essential.  We often spend time cooking together or doing art together.  This is an intentional time we spend learning who he is and how amazing he is.  It is a reminder, especially on harder days, that there is so much light, love, and life to give to him and that he gives to us.

Family Game Night

Family Fun Night: These are my favorite nights!  My husband is usually in charge of planning these nights.  And he is so good at it!  Of course, we do the family game night, but my husband doesn’t stop there.  Having the same routine can become monotonous if that is all you do all the time.  So, we build Lego as a family or spend a night reading to each other.  Around the holidays, usually the first week of December, my family loves to read The Best Christmas Pagent Ever.  But here is a list of some books we have enjoyed reading together as well. 

Community Serve Day: Sending cards to those in senior homes

Family Work Days: I have a love-hate relationship with these days.  I hate getting started and how some tasks take WAY longer than they should do to teaching and training.  I love how we accomplish things as a family, I love seeing how my family grows in communication, strength, and bonds.  We set a goal for the day. Sometimes it is getting the garage clean.  Sometimes it spring cleaning (dusting, wall cleaning, re-organizing).  Sometimes, it is a community volunteer day where we volunteer at a local organization for someone else.  We really like these events being able to do things from helping the elderly to yard work for a non-profit.  We love being able to serve together.  This opens the door to so many life conversations that get missed in the daily chaos.

Family Work Out Night: 2 mile run and Card Deck Strengthening Game Night

Family Work Outs: I know what you are thinking…“No way!  Working out is for me to have a break from my kids” or “Nope, I don’t do that.”  Although there are numerous reasons to work out for your health and wellness, there is something more rewarding when you work out together as a family.  love to long-distance run together.  I am slow…very slow compared to my family who can run 2 miles in under 17 minutes.  But, we start as a family, and when they are done, they come back and finish with me – as a family.  I love the deck of card nights.  We use a traditional deck of cards and shuffle.  Each draws a card.  The number on the card tells us how many of the activity, the suite tells us what activity (hearts are abs, diamonds are pushups, spades are squats, and clubs rotate burpees, heavy ropes, punching bags, kicks).  There is so much variety with this, and it becomes a game.  We are completely out of fun ideas or need to get out of a rut, we find a new workout on Tubi, Amazon, or Youtube.   

Family Fun Hiking Day

Family  Fun Days:  My husband and son are as manly as they come.  They love to fish, hike, dig in the sand, and play in puddles.  I am as girly as they come.  I love to read, write, and paint.  We could not be farther apart on the spectrum.  But I love these days.  My boys will take me hiking into a beautiful wood, then stop for hot chocolate and smores before hiking back.  They have taken me fishing, while I bring a book, and enjoy watching them bring home dinner.  I love it when we go to the beach and play in the water, build sandcastles, and attempt to catch fish with our hands.  But, they love me too.  So, sometimes we find the free days at the museums and aquariums and learn about history and art for a day.  Zoos are great places to go as a family and spend time out in nature able to talk with each other.   Check out next week’s blog for more ideas on how to build your family relationships on a budget.