It’s funny how life can change your perspective on the things you grew up believing. For the longest time, I thought love was this story-book fairytale with a dashing prince charming at your beck and call. If you were lucky enough, then you’d get to experience it.
Just last week, my husband and I celebrated one month of being married, and it has definitely felt surreal. It’s a completely new feeling—beautiful and disorienting all at once. You’re learning to adjust your life and how to create a new routine of normalcy. After six and a half years of dating—yes, that’s right, I said six and a half—one month of being married has felt more natural than you’d expect. I’m not the same person I was when I was single, that’s for sure, but I think that’s what makes marriage all the more exciting.
Before I married my now husband, I remember growing up observing Valentine’s Day as this day set aside where my significant other needed to go all out to swoon me up. A dozen roses, boxes of creamy chocolates, heartfelt love letters and all the pearls a girl could ask for—these were the things I felt society pushed me to think were the essentials in a successful relationship. So of course, when we’re bombarded with these ideas of “the perfect gesture,” we place expectations on the person we’re dating. We expect for them to follow through because that’s what everyone else is sharing about on Instagram.
As I look at Valentine’s Day as a newly married woman, I find this season has changed my perspective on relationships all together. While the hype of this holiday (which I love) can be enticing, I’ve come to the place in my life where I’ve realized it’s about so much more than just chocolates and well-wishes. These things are great—and hey, everyone deserves the extra love every now and then—but sometimes, the hype of Valentine’s Day can cause us to completely miss out on the value of healthy relationships.
The hype of Valentine’s Day can cause us to completely miss out on the value of healthy relationships.
One of my favorite leadership experts, John Maxwell, gave great advice regarding relationships in both personal and professional settings in his book,”
He said, “Be more concerned about making others feel good about themselves than you are in making them feel good about you.”
Sometimes, it’s really easy to look at Valentine’s Day or even just a relationship in general and look for what we can get out of it. How can we benefit from what this person has to offer? We’ve all experienced this in some capacity, and it’s a part of being human. We desire acceptance, affirmation and consistency when it comes to others. Yet, instead of getting caught up in our own needs, we need to examine our hearts and find ways to serve the people we love without expectation.
With that in mind, it is crucial for relationships to be mutual. There needs to be a balance. It comes down to whether or not you are looking for ways to add value to the people around you. Valentine’s Day is a great concept, but we shouldn’t have to wait for this holiday to show our love and affection to the ones we love.
Being a newlywed, my expectations of Valentine’s Day this year have shifted from when we first started dating. We’ve gone from trying to out-gift one another with as many heart-shaped things as we can to now simply carving out time to be intentional with each other through words of affirmation and quality time.
When you’re in love, gifts are great, but the real gift is becoming one with that person. You begin to value that person’s dreams above your own, as crazy as that may sound. You begin to drive home from work and wonder what recipe you can cook together that night for dinner. You even begin to simply enjoy the stillness of your new home together.
When you’re in love, gifts are great, but the real gift is becoming one with that person.
Stepping into this new season of being married, I often times look back at my single years. Those were some of the hardest years of my life, but I walked away a better person because of them. To the girl who’s reading this who is single and desiring to be married, your happiness isn’t defined by a person. Find ways to embrace and enjoy this time to focus on yourself, to dream outside of your comfort zone and to become the healthiest version of yourself. Your day will come when you least expect it. Focusing on ways to develop as a human being is never a waste of time, but it actually prepares you for marriage.
If I could go back to my younger self, then I’d tell her to enjoy the season she’s in as much as she can. So many times I was in the “waiting to not be single” season, and I would be heartbroken over not finding “the one”—whatever that is. All along, my husband was waiting for me, too. He came into my life at the perfect moment. Looking back at my past heartaches and disappointments, I can appreciate my new life as a married woman even more because I’ve realized that all that time was just preparing me for this moment.
Days like Valentine’s Day can easily make us feel trapped by comparison, especially when we’re scrolling through social media. Own your season. You’ll never get this time again, and there truly is purpose in it.
Share the love this Valentine’s Day with the Darling Conversation Cards. Every card has question prompts for you and your loved ones to enrich your relationships with deeper dialogue.
Does Valentine’s Day bring up feelings of comparison for you? How can you learn to embrace this season and become the healthiest version of yourself?
Image via Raisa Zwart