On this Valentine’s day eve, I’m thinking of those couples whose disconnection is weighing even more heavily. As if the daily reminders weren’t hard enough, this holiday can be quite the twist of the knife. I trust that you can find countless articles about the 10 special ways to celebrate Valentine’s day, but when you are sitting in disconnection it can be a real challenge to get through the day. Here is some perspective from a couples therapist.
What is Valentine’s Day anyway?
Valentine’s Day may conjure up imagines of candies, red roses, and candlelit dinners, but when you dig a little deeper, the history of this day is quite dark and frankly beyond archaic. It started with the ancient Romans as a two day event called Lupercalia during which women were beaten with hides of freshly sacrificed animals, then randomly partnered up with men to copulate, all in the name of fertility. Then around the 3rd century AD, a couple of Roman priests were killed; their names? You guessed it, Saint Valentines. Very little is actually known about them.Then eventually in the mid 19th century, Shakespeare and Chaucer romanticized the day through poetry, which inspired mass-printed paper cards; hello Hallmark! Lest you call me jaded, looking at it through the lens of history, this holiday is nothing more than the romanticization of an cruel ritual that disempowered women.
While history should remain in the past, it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves that like all holidays, Valentine’s Day is just as far removed from its original conception as SO MANY OTHER HOLIDAYS.
Make room for all of your emotions:
On these types of occasions, even more so than the usual days of carefully curated social media feeds, there can be this added pressure to feel and act happy, in love, and romantic.
Instead of forcing yourself to « be » the way you’re expected to (which actually ends up making you feel worse about your situation), give yourself permission to feel all of your feelings.
If you are into journaling or maybe even jotting down a few sentences in your phone, write down what you are feeling and thinking. As you write, can you start phrasing sentences more about your longings rather than your current anger, pain, sadness. What do you wish for? It may seem counterintuitive, but actually making room for all that you are experiencing on the inside will actually pave the way for those softer emotions to surface. Those softer emotions and longings are the conduit to connection. Perhaps you can look at this Valentine’s Day as the day you finally let yourself feel the complete spectrum of emotions on the path to authentic connection.
Remember this is not forever:
Like the temporality of our emotions, the situations we are in are also time-limited. While it may not seem as such at the moment, I don’t have to remind you how your broken-heart did heal even after your high school sweetheart broke up with you. Recent studies on relationships are highlighting that believing that things can improve creates forward movement towards working on our relationships. Give yourself permission to take positive steps toward improving your relationship. You may start by making a list of the things you still appreciate about your partner, starting a dialogue about wanting things to improve between you (remember, no blaming!), picking up a book with some real science about love and relationships, or even better, calling a reputable couples therapist in your area.
Your situation is temporary as long as you’re willing to take accountable, positive steps to get unstuck.
I leave you with the always magical words of Rumi:
A night full of talking that hurts,
My worst held-back secrets. Everything
has to do with loving and not loving.
This night will pass.
Then we have work to do.
*** To find out more, I invite you to book a FREE consultation with me. I offer in-person psychotherapy (in Westport, CT) and online counseling throughout Connecticut and New York ***