Valentines Day: A Time to Celebrate Many Kinds of Love
Valentine’s Day. For those who are romancing, it is a day for declaring love and devotion and for showering one’s beloved with sentimental gifts, candy, and cards. For those of us who are not in the thralls of new love, all those hearts and cupids can make us nostalgic or mildly, maybe even wildly, resentful. It’s like watching somebody else’s party and not being invited. It’s like peering through the window of a candy store where someone else is getting the candy. It’s like not being chosen for the team.
Here’s the problem: The way our culture generally celebrates Valentine’s Day has made the characteristics of the new-in-love into a standard for everyone. New love is gooey and sentimental and overdone. It’s a wonderful, intoxicating time that everyone should be blessed to have at least once in life. There’s nothing like it for silliness, happiness, and wonder. But new-in-love isn’t (and shouldn’t be) forever. New-in-love is just that – new. It’s the beginning of a process of loving that, given commitment and time, evolves into other phases that are just as interesting, just as precious, and just as worthy of acknowledgement.
A New Kind Of Card Gallery
If it were up to me, the card gallery in the local supermarket would not be an endless aisle of romantic sentimentality for the month before Valentine’s Day. Instead, it would be divided into sections that would honor the many kinds and stages of love. Imagine browsing through choices like these:
New-in-Love: The cards say: “You’re wonderful. You’re perfect. You’re just like me.”
This is the infatuation stage. I remember when my 20-something daughter, all agog with new love, declared that she was sure that she and her boyfriend were the same person in a former life. No, she doesn’t believe in some strange reincarnation theory. She was just amazed and delighted to find someone with whom she shared so many things.
New love focuses on how we’re alike. New love looks for the endless fascinating coincidences and similarities that reassure us that this person, unlike any other, can understand and be understood. New love isn’t blind; it’s just selective in what it sees. And what it sees most are the ways that the beloved is a flattering mirror.
The Second Stage – Embracing Differences: The cards say: “You’re not who I thought you were, but it’s even more interesting this way.”
No relationship can sustain blind intoxication forever. After a few months of being gaga, reality begins to assert itself. With reality inevitably comes some disappointments: