A black and white photo of a woman in her wedding gown and veil standing in front of a door that leads to outside

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,” Be A People Person: Effective Leadership Through Effective Relationships.” 

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

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4 comments

  1. I appreciated your article. I am a single woman from the South and sick of the narrative that there is your life before your wedding and your life after it, and no one gets around the framework that you are on some side of that cornerstone. Your paragraph talking to women waiting to be married is fitting, of course, because that is a group that has self-identified that they want marriage. I feel myself having a reaction to it because it’s advice and an assumption that is constantly handed to me. I instead want to live my life *not* buying into the belief that I am on some road that inevitably leads to marriage; that my life as an individual is richly fulfilling, laced with deep connections to people I love, and that a marriage isn’t the someday goal to make this all just get better. Most people that I speak to don’t accept that I can make that paradigm shift for myself, and they respond with “well, someday you’ll be married and see…” I appreciate your perspective on this conversation, and I also want Valentine’s Day to be reconsidered as a day to express our love for our people authentically.

    1. Colette! Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. I want to affirm this article references marriage out of my personal experience––not necessarily to encourage it as everyone’s end-all-be-all. I love what you shared about the beauty of your life as an individual + I agree. Marriage isn’t for everyone. To be single + thriving in your life is an empowering accomplishment––one that I wish more women would talk about. My words are really hoping to encourage anyone who may be single/in a relationship in hopes of it leading to marriage. Even those who are married can agree marriage doesn’t fix our problems nor does it serve as the ultimate goal life has to offer. It’s a beautiful opportunity to build a life with someone else, if you feel led to do so. It’s a humbling/eye-opening experience when a person decides to marry just as it is for someone to embrace singleness. We’re all on different paths relationally. My hope is that we can all make Valentine’s Day less about finding “the one” and more about just finding contentment/joy in celebrating the love we have for people.

    1. Charmaine! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Congratulations and best wishes for your marriage! How exciting! ?

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