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By Yvonne Sinclair M.A.
Valentine's Day is traditionally for couples. The premise is to proclaim your love and polish up the love connection you have with another person. Sometimes we give cards or symbolic tokens to people with whom we are not a couple. However, Valentine's Day is mostly interpreted as a couple's day.
For some people, Valentine's Day will not be anticipated with joyous expectations.
Some people may have lost their loved one this year. Some people may have even experienced a death of their significant other, divorce, or separation. For them, Valentine's Day may be painful, lonely, and sad. Those who have lost a loved one may not be the only ones dreading the "love" day. Couples having problems may look at the day as a mockery. They may be confused as to how to address the fact they are not feeling the love for their partner. Sometimes people compare the gift to how much their partner loves them. One partner may resent the fact he/she is expected to declare a love that is not felt, or he/she may resent the fact he/she is expected to give an expensive gift when money is tight.
Valentine's Day, a day of love, can be complicated and even depressing. In the above situations, Valentine's Day can present an issue as to how to celebrate or ignore the day. Let's talk about situations that are, perhaps, not as obviously a problem for the "love" day. What if one of the partners is feeling jealous about something? Or what if one partner is giving time, energy, and attention to someone or something else that would be better spent nurturing the relationship. The left out partner is feeling jealous or, well, left out. If one partner is having an affair, then Valentine's Day will be stressful for his/her other spouse. Even if the affair is not revealed, then there can be a sense something is wrong in the relationship, and the non-cheating partner will look at Valentine's Day to validate love or give more clues as to what is eroding the love in this relationship.
An affair is described as follows: "Infidelity," according to Wikipedia, is a breach of faith, and it occurs in a number of contexts. It does not depend on the presence of sexual behavior. Even within a close relationship, people might have extremely different ideas and perceptions of infidelity. Fidelity refers to the accuracy and integrity of self-representation, honesty, or candor in an intimate, committed relationship.
"Marriage," usually means that you trust a loved one to care about you, to be true to you, to have integrity within your relationship, and to put the couple relationship above all other relationships. When that trust is broken, you may feel betrayed, rejected, uncared about, and unloved. If there has been an affair, and you are working on making the relationship come together, then Valentine's Day could be an opportunity to reconnect and add nurturing behavior to the relationship. It could be a time to communicate needs and wishes. Valentine's Day could be used to spend time enjoying activities that deepen the couple's emotional and physical intimacy.
Having a relationship with another person that takes your attention, time, energy, finances, or caring away from your primary partner is described as an "affair." I would like to suggest that a romantic affair is not the only time this energy, attention, and time is given to another. Sometimes couples must deal with an ex-partner who has some power in their relationship. Co-parenting can create issues with the step-parent if there is considerable time spent communicating with the ex. Perhaps the ex-partner uses this connection to purposefully drive a wedge between the new person and his/her separated spouse. Valentine's Day will be a time the new partner may be looking for validation that he/she is important, and the primary love interest in this relationship. This can lay the ground work for a disappointing Valentine's Day if communication about this issue is lacking. The partner feeling jealous or left out will want to be given a significant Valentine's Day. If this issue is not on the communication table, then the hurting partner may be setting him/herself up for disappointment, and the spouse expected to make everything right will not have a clue what has gone wrong.
Another aspect to the complications of Valentine's Day is the fact we all feel love in a personal and unique way. For one person, feeling loved may mean getting a gift, but for his/her partner, feeling loved could mean spending quality time together. So, the one who like gifts gives a gift to the one who wants quality time. The partner who feels love spending quality time together gives that to the loved one who needs a gift to feel loved. Neither partner feels truly loved, and both are disappointed with Valentine's Day. The relationship is not nurtured; it is harmed. I bet you didn't realize just how complicated a little holiday could become. The Five Love Languages written by Gary D. Chapman is a book that can help you discover your love language. Once you and your partner are aware of how you both feel loved, your gift giving and holiday celebration can become a time of relationship nurturing and growth.
If you are one of the people who has lost a love, then you could spend the day loving yourself. You could do nurturing things for yourself and do things that bring you joy. You could pick another person who is alone and create a day of enjoyment with him/her. If you are in a relationship with problems, try communicating your needs around this Valentine's Day. Listen to your partner for clues about his/her needs. Valentine's Day could be used to heal some hurt or start a tired relationship back on the road to health and happiness.
Have a Valentine's Day that nurtures your relationship and brings you joy. Communicate, care, and be intimate. Spend time creating your relationship; it doesn't grow on its own. Enjoy pleasure and be joyful!
©Copyright 2011 by Yvonne Sinclair M.A., MFCC. All Rights Reserved. All material is owned and protected. Reproduction without the express written consent of the author is forbidden.