It's Valentine's Day this week, in case you hadn't noticed all the pink and red, hearts and flowers, and chocolate trophies being thrown at shoppers.. Not exactly my favorite holiday... but not for the reasons you might think. I've never had a horrible Valentine's. Quite the opposite, I've had some really special ones, in the past. But its mostly because I'm not a traditional "romantic".
The traditional "romantic" woman is one who loves "happy-ever-after" stories, expects (and gets) flowers, cards, lace-and-bows traditional gifts, dresses up to impress, and enjoys the chivalrous actions of her partner(s). Which is soo not me. I like happy-ever-after, well enough, but I want more than just "riding off into the sunset, Disney-style".. I like real life better, and I know real life doesn't end at the engagement/wedding/first kiss. Relationships take work. I think flowers are pretty, and I do enjoy their beauty, but I'd much prefer a plant to put in my garden than a cut bouquet to put in a vase. To me, that's a waste of money, since they won't last. I adore chocolate and treats, but honestly? I really don't need too much of that -- not good for my health, my skin or my waistline, such as it is... I can (and do) dress to impress, but for the most part, I prefer to be comfortable and wear things that are safe for young children, since I have a few around me, lol. I dress neat, clean, modest and try to be attractive, but I don't wear bling and sparkle all the time, and I rarely wear make-up! And while I expect courtesy and respect from any relationship, the traditional date-night chivalry tends to make me roll my eyes.
I guess my issue is that I'm too practical to be romantic. Romance is for optimists, and I'm too realistic to be that optimistic. Unfortunately, my husband is a die-hard optimist, and my lack of romance drives him crazy. He's the one who would love to spend tons of money on roses, chocolates, jewelry and fancy dinners out. He insists (most of the time) on opening my car door, holding my hand and tends to be very affectionate. Ok, I can't lie and say I don't like that part :) But for the most part, I would rather he spent the money on a nice potted geranium than a dozen roses, on pizza for the family instead of dinner out, and save the expensive jewelry money for a vacation trip or perhaps even just to pay down the mortgage.
It comes down to love languages, I guess. I highly recommend Gary Chapman's book on the subject, and so do most of my family and friends (we were given 3 of them when we got engaged!! LOL), and it was very enlightening for us. My husband's love language is words of affirmation, with a secondary of gifts, which is why I get the compliments and treats. Mine is quality time, emphasis on quality listening/conversation, and my secondary is physical affection, so I would rather spend long hours in discussion about anything and everything, cuddled up on the couch.
With love languages, the reverse of them is the absolute worst thing you can do to a person. If you want to hurt someone who's love language is say, physical affection, refuse to make love with them.. it will hurt them right at the core of who they are. So my husband has a really hard time with criticism of any kind, as he takes it very very personally. And I get very hurt if I don't feel listened to, or if I feel misunderstood. These things attack the heart of our being. You might as well stick a knife in the relationship, metaphorically speaking.
The problems come when the languages get crossed or mixed up. When I forget my "please"s and "thank you"s, or if I complain about something my husband has done too often, he will become very grumpy and upset with me. If he asks me to repeat myself several times, or several days go by without a kiss or a touch of some kind, I feel neglected and undervalued. Obviously, this leads to more issues, in a spiraling cycle of anger and hurt.
Your love language is what comes naturally to you. It's how you naturally express how you feel about someone. But if they don't share your love language, as Gary said, you might as well be speaking a foreign language, for all the good it will do you. It takes work to remember and express yourself in ways your partner will receive as loving. But, it is worth it.
This Valentine's Day, treat it as a good reminder of how your partner really experiences love. You don't have to spend a ton of money or go out to a fancy dinner, especially if neither of you see that time and money as being especially loving. Perhaps the pizza and a movie, cuddled on the couch after the kids in bed will be a ton more special. Or a love note left in a secret place, or a well-planned seduction? The possibilities are endless, and creativity is very useful when you consider your mate's love language.
Me? I'm hoping for a love letter or well-written card, with perhaps some quality time later in the evening.... *wink wink*...