Another Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and while some poo -poo the idea of another Hallmark holiday, I can’t help but enjoy the pop of red and pink in the store windows. Who doesn’t love a cheerful display of hearts and roses – and most importantly – CHOCOLATE when it is -25 and gloomy with still a long 6 weeks until Spring Break? As you know by now, I love a holiday. Typically, when I think of Valentine’s Day and its love inspired celebrations, my thoughts go to how I am going to make it special for our teens. Funnily enough, I still think of these holidays as celebrations for our kids – the REAL reason for the holiday (celebrating romantic love) doesn’t really come in to play (sorry honey!!) This isn’t because I don’t love and adore my husband, or that we don’t “celebrate,” it’s just that my most recent years have been filled with making sure the kids did their Valentine cards – (don’t forget EVERYONE in the class now has to get one), AND trying to figure out what cool and interesting treat / pencil / dollar store trinket I could tape on to them. In addition, I have always been the one making sure the day was special for THEM! The lunch box had to have a heart themed napkin and maybe a few heart shaped jujubes, a little love note and some special Valentine treats. Before they were in school, it was sugar cookies decorated with gobs of icing and sprinkles.
On a side note, does anyone remember the elementary school CAKE WALK?? This was most definitely a late 70’s or early 80’s phenomenon, but when reminiscing about Valentine’s Day with Danni recently, we BOTH remembered participating in Valentine’s Day cake walks at our school. For those of you too young to know about the cake walk, this is when each child brought a homemade cake from home – a game of walking around the cakes ensued resulting in everyone taking home a different cake – not really sure of the point of this, other than making more work for the moms, but gawd – imagine if we tried that now?!! It is totally unheard of. Ah, the good old days!!
So, now with the kids getting older, we have time to think about things other than the box of Valentine’s that need to be delivered on February 14th to each classroom. We have time to think about grown up love, how love changes as you age, and what “Valentine’s Day” will look like 5, 10, or 20 years from now! Kinda scary, right?? No doubt if you have been (and still are) in a long term relationship while bringing up your kids, it will look much different than it did those blissful childless years when you were first together. It will also look much different than those first sleepless years with babies and toddlers. And, different again from the years driving tweens to and from activities and events. As your life changes and grows, so should your relationship, right?
Emotionally we share a much deeper connection with our partner than ever before. Raising kids and standing side by side through the battlefield of their ups and downs hopefully has made us stronger. One look over a teen’s head, we catch each other’s eye, and I know exactly what my husband is thinking. Occasionally we surprise each other, but for the most part I can anticipate and rely on this unspoken connection. In addition, there is a maturity to how we understand and experience our relationships as well. Things that might have bothered us in the past, we have grown to accept. We’ve come to understand the Dr. Phil adage, “would you rather be happy or right?”
Prioritizing a romantic relationship at this stage of life should be fun and not a chore. However, some of the “new habits” that can help create that lasting connection CAN be hard to follow through on after years of living together. With kids coming and going at strange hours, and staying up later than we care to, it is harder than ever to find that pocket of time for romance (read: sex). The onset of menopause doesn’t help with this, nor sleep or stress issues. I recently visited the optometrist who diagnosed me with dry eyes due to most likely hormonal changes that come with menopause. HMMMM – just wonder what will be next to dry up… But – it has made me think of three things I should be doing – that you can try too, this Valentine’s Day!
THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD DO THIS VALENTINE’S DAY (and always!)
JUST DO IT…
I’m sure you have heard that sex is like a muscle – if you use it consistently and regularly, it gets stronger. Many sex educators discuss the issues women can have with a lowered libido due to menopause, or just plain routine. Do you know what they say?? JUST DO IT. Yup – same as exercise, sometimes you just have to power through even when you don’t particularly feel like it. We need an entire separate blog post for dealing with menopause and sex – Yam Lube anyone?? But, the story is, the more you keep THIS part of your relationship active, the more closeness you feel, and the more gentle you are with your spouse and your connection grows. It really does make sense. It is human nature to want to feel desired and cherished by your partner. Sometimes, as the years go by and particularly if you feel secure and comfortable in your relationship this aspect of your relationship can fall away.
JUST SAY IT
Remember when you were first dating and you just couldn’t stop talking (to your partner and others) about just how great they were? Do you remember how to flirt? Challenge yourself this week and try flirting with your significant other again. Tell them they look hot in those pants, or that their biceps are really getting big from those workouts… 😉 Take the friendship out of the relationship – surprise them. And then see point one…
JUST CARVE IT
Carve out time from your kids, your work, and errands to do something…anything together. It doesn’t have to be an expensive weekend away, a fancy dinner or spa day but it does need to be something you like to do together. What did you do together before kids that made you smile? Go back there. Think of things you stopped doing over the years, or the things you have in common. Friends of ours have created “Reading Week” because they both love to read. They collect books throughout the year they are wanting to read and set aside an entire week in their own home where they follow their passion. No they are not reading to each other, but they are enjoying the comfort of being together doing something they love. They set aside time to light their souls on fire. Feeling passionate about something together is the key. And then see point one…
So, as much as Valentine’s Day this year does not have me running to the Dollar Store, or rolling out dough for those famous heart shaped sugar cookies, it IS making me think about LOVE. It is inspiring me to be a better partner for not just the day, but for our future together – until death do us part…
Happy Valentine’s Day friends!