I think it’s so important to discuss how marriage really is – beyond the romantic fantasies of amazing couples and the happy selfie snaps on Facebook. So, in the spirit of truthfulness, I’m going to share with you how my Valentine’s Day went this year – how I really failed at it, and how my husband and I recovered.
I am not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day… I just find it’s really manufactured. There’s so much pressure and expectation around it. There’s very clear, cookie-cutter defined things you’re supposed to be doing, and I just don’t think it really supports marriages or relationships all that much. It just makes people feel disappointed when expectations don’t match up with reality – that’s my take. But my husband, bless his heart, loves to give me gifts. It’s just one of his love languages.
We weren’t planning anything for Valentine’s Day. He called me during the day, which is not uncommon for us, just wanting so say hi. Then he was like,
“Oh, by the way, Happy Valentine’s Day.”
“Oh, yeah. You too.”
“I really wanted to get you some flowers, but I didn’t want you to get upset about it so … ” it makes me sound like a terrible person, so I said,
“Well, why don’t you go ahead and buy me some flowers.”
I really like tulips. I don’t like red roses, and in my mind, I was thinking carnations or those kind of flowers that they dye at the store. I much prefer potted plants and very natural simple flowers. I put that aside and said,
“Go ahead and buy me them, and I’ll really, really enjoy them.”
Later during that day, I was running some errands. While shopping, I remembered that he really needed a new coffee mug. They had some on sale, and so I thought, well, why not? So I grabbed it and went on with my day.
I am usually the one who picks up the kids from the school and all that. The day before was a busy day as one of my daughters had choir and the other one had drama class, so there’s a lot of driving around on Wednesdays. So… there I was, at the end of the day, in the kitchen cleaning up. Our house was a mess, and I was just feeling really frantic. My husband came home, and put some flowers down on the counter. I looked and saw that they were a mix of carnations… and just, a bunch of flowers that I hate.
I’m doing the dishes, and I’m just feeling so grumpy. I don’t know if it’s just me who gets into these moods, but I was just a horrible person to be around. And there’s my husband – he bought me flowers. He’s being super sweet. I’m doing dishes and grumbling and complaining about the house. He’s like,
“Go take some time. Go in your room. Take care of your needs. I’ve got it from here. The kids and I will clean up. It’s no big deal,”
But I was just so stuck on it. I was scrubbing a pan too. That’s the worst right? When things are so gross and crusted on… I was fixated, just scrubbing away at that pan.
Again he tries to help, “Just leave it. Go,” and I’m thinking, no, if I leave it, then I’ll have to do it in the morning, and he got me flowers I hate... (rant, grumble, boo hoo). You guys, I was in a miserable mood. The thing is, when you’re feeling emotions, the worst thing you can do is try to stuff them down and not feel them.
Remembering that I’m a marriage coach, I somehow managed to start trying to figure out what I should do in this moment. What would I tell a client to do? Number one – don’t try not to be angry or frustrated… because it’s not going to work. It’s just going to make it worse. Feel the feelings. Okay, I don’t want to hurt my husband’s feelings, but… why don’t I like those flowers?
Suddenly I had this memory pop up of two really uncomfortable Valentine’s Days that I’ve had with previous boyfriends. I got married at 17, so I didn’t have a lot of experience, but I had little crushes and such in elementary school and high school. There were two in particular that were so uncomfortable. They both had bought me cheapie gifts, like something from a 7-Eleven. I felt that “Valentine’s Day expectation”, and we were playing this romantic part, but I was really just a kid, and I didn’t understand what my role was. I just felt really ew and icky and gross.
I thought, okay. That’s something I can share with my husband. I was all wet from doing dishes, and I just surrendered.
“I’m having a hard day.”
I turned to him, and he hugged me, and he said,
“You know what? Come here and have a hard day with me.”
“I’m sorry. You’re so sweet.”
“Don’t say sorry. It’s fine. You’re okay to have emotions.”
Then I told him, “I don’t like the flowers. I hate the flowers.”
“That’s okay. You don’t need to like the flowers. Just don’t be mad at me.”
I told him that epiphany I had about the previous uncomfortable Valentine’s Days. He just hugged me, and said, “I accept all of you. I don’t want you to change.”
I apologized for being so quirky and weird. He said, “It’s okay. I love all of you, even that part.”
At that moment, I realized – I need to take care of myself here, because clearly, I’m having a rough time. I have a partner who wants to be my hero and wants to protect and provide for me, and I’m just grumbling around about what I don’t like. Okay, what do I need? I think I really need to get moving. I haven’t been to the gym in a while. Actually, months! I haven’t done any sort of intentional exercise other than walking in a long time. Okay then – this Valentine’s Day, the way I’m going to turn it around is I’m going take care of myself, and I’m going to find some pleasure in this miserable night that I’m having.
I texted a friend. I told her how I was feeling. That felt good. Then I just put on my workout clothes, got my phone, found a really great podcast I wanted to listen to, and got myself to the gym. I worked out. I listened to this podcast. I came home. I had a wonderful long shower. My husband and I snuggled up in bed, watched The Office, which is our current show, and it became a wonderful moment of connection.
There’s so many little nuggets and morals of the story that I want to share, but one that’s really standing out is this:
Run to your husband, or run to your wife, when you’re feeling upset. Just be all of who you are with them. You become a very open door when you are vulnerable with your spouse, rather than blaming and criticizing and shoving all of your anger towards them. It creates space for real intimacy.
That was the first thing I learned, and then the second thing I learned is that pleasure and taking responsibility for your own needs and your own pleasure is so important in a marriage. I can’t even stress it enough. Working on your marriage is really just working on yourself.
On that note, I want to mention that starting on Monday, February 19th, I’m running a free pleasure challenge for women. It’s going to be so much fun, and I hope you join us. We’ve already got so many lovely ladies in there. I’d love to just support you, and give you some accountability to find pleasure in your everyday life and take care of yourself so that you can have an incredible marriage. Here’s a link, I hope to see you there! Otherwise, have a great day – and remember… just run to your spouse in all your moments; in your happy moments, in your sad moments, and even in your angry moments. Just be vulnerable about the pain you’re protecting. Don’t spread it on them.
Talk to you later!