I gotta tell you, I would have never expected to write a blog post with this title. While my mushy-gushy romantic side kind of loves Valentine’s Day, practically I know that the holiday should be called “Support the Florists and Chocolatiers of America Day.” Brandon always says “I don’t need a day to show much I love you; I do that all the time,” and I usually agree with him.
Valentines’ Day is less about the feeling of love and more about outward displays of love, and while I’m not saying there’s anything wrong AT ALL with celebrating the day, being in a relationship for almost 6 years now has shown me that there’s a lot more to love than chocolate and flowers. In the 6 Valentines’ Days we’ve been together, we’ve always kept it pretty low-key, so even though this year is our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple, I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary.
Since Brandon has a crazy week of work and I’m a diehard about going to bible study every Tuesday at 7, we decided to go out for a V Day brunch today in lieu of a dinner. We had a great meal at one of our favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and things were lovely…until the drive home. We started chatting about Brandon’s post-law-school plans, and a casual conversation quickly turned into me complaining about not knowing where we were going to live after law school and being frustrated about moving so much within a few years. Good vibes = killed. Good job, Tay.
After a few minutes of me complaining in the car, Brandon finally turned to me and gave me a pleading look. “Tay, it’s Valentine’s Day.” This was clearly code for “It’s supposed to be a day of love so could you quit being so negative?”
If there’s one thing I can say about marriage, it’s that it highlights the best and worst parts of yourself. One of the worst parts of myself that I’ve come to recognize since we got married is my tendency to be critical. I’m not just critical of Brandon; I’m critical of basically anything I can get my little hyper-critical hands on.
My critical nature serves me well in my professional life, where I’m able to analyze data, look for patterns, and understand complex concepts. In my personal life, my critical tendencies can lead me to be harsh, black and white, and a little pessimistic, making me the Queen of “Yes, but…” Yes, life is great but wouldn’t it be great if we had X, Y, Z. Yes, I love my husband but sometimes I wish he’d conform to my hyper-obsessive standards of cleanliness. I’m constantly analyzing, assessing, and probably being way too honest about it. My daily life has more buts than a Nicki Minaj music video.
When Brandon called me out this morning for being negative, it hit me: the value of Valentine’s Day, at least for me, isn’t to go over the top with my love or to buy nice things for Brandon. It’s a much-needed reminder to put aside the “yes, but…” for at least one day and see our relationship (and the rest of my life!) for what it is: no qualifiers, no “buts,” far from perfect, but happy, messy, and wonderful. Life without realism is ignorance, but there is a way to enjoy life without analyzing it to death, or so I’m told. The sappy, happy love of Valentine’s Day isn’t meant to ignore the realities of love, but to remind us that love, in all of its ups and downs, is pretty great if done right.
Whether you’re 100% happy in your relationship or going through a rough patch, I hope you took some time today to discard your own “yes, but”s and see your relationship through fresh eyes. If you’re single and critical like me, take this as a warning to work on your critical-ness before you get married. Trust me, it’s easier that way.
If tougher problems need more prayer, I’m going to need a whole prayer army to help me overcome being critical and learn to smell the roses instead of asking them 50 questions, so if you think about it, shoot me a prayer to the guy upstairs. I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day and as always, thanks for reading and putting up with my bad jokes.