My husband and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because it is the anniversary of our first fight. It was our first Valentine’s Day, we were separated by 1,000 miles, and we’d only been dating (long distance, mind you) for 33 days. Craig sent the cutest little flower arrangement (in a mug being hugged by a tiny stuffed Dalmatian) to the salon where I worked at the time. I displayed them proudly at my station, thrilled to be in the “My-significant-other-loves-me-enough-to-send-me-flowers-on-Valentine’s-Day” club.
At the end of the day, I brought my flowers home and placed them on my dining room table and waited for my Valentine to call. We were an hour or so into our nightly chat when my call waiting beeped. It was odd because it was nearing midnight, so I asked Craig to hold on while I answered it. That was my first mistake. This was back in the “Old Days,” when we actually had to pay for long distance. By the minute. And it wasn’t cheap.
The caller was the young man I had broken up with just weeks before meeting Craig for some compelling reasons I won’t detail here. I was surprised, but I didn’t want to rush him off the phone because I felt really bad about our break up. That was my second mistake. He was a nice guy and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. So, instead of politely telling him I was in another relationship and hanging up, I continued to talk to him for twenty minutes. While Craig waited on my other line, paying for minutes of dead air. (And yes, that was my third mistake.)
In retrospect, it probably wasn’t my best choice to talk so long to my ex-boyfriend on Valentine’s Day while my new boyfriend was on hold. At the time it seemed okay because the ex had asked me if I was happy, and if I was seeing someone new. So I basically talked about Craig the whole time anyway.
So after politely chatting for nearly a half an hour (I know you’re thinking I’m a horrible person; I was definitely self-centered with low self esteem back then) I got him to hang up and I went back to my conversation with Craig. Of course he wanted to know who was calling his new girlfriend at midnight on Valentine’s Day. As you can imagine, he wasn’t happy with my answer and a heated discussion followed. The conversation ended with me getting self righteous (because deep down I knew I was wrong) and telling him that if he was unable to trust me, then maybe we needed to just forget it.
That was one of the longest nights of my life. I knew Craig was The One after our first phone conversation a month earlier, and I didn’t want to “just forget it.” I wanted us to live in the same town and have a normal relationship. I wanted a do-over of the night before so I could make a better choice. I wanted Craig to call me back and apologize for not trusting me. I wanted the courage to call him and apologize for being stupid.
Clearly we were able to work it out because that was 19 years ago and we’ve been married for a little over 18. It was a hiccup in our budding relationship, but thankfully, Craig knew I was The One several months even before I did, and called me the next day to apologize for being jealous and not trusting me. (And yes, I apologized for being stupid.)
For obvious reasons, Valentine’s Day is not our favorite holiday. We’ve never celebrated it since that first one in 1994. We would rather not commemorate our first fight every year and I’m not really the flower type anyway. Instead, we try to find ways to show each other our love every day. Craig is awesome, and has spoiled me in a thousand ways over the years. Little things, like finding the Pearson “Minty Bells” in the bulk section of Winco, remembering (even though they’ve been impossible to find for several years) that they were always my favorite Christmas candy growing up, and bringing me a big bag full. Or patiently mixing me a cup of chocolate milk and bringing it to me in bed every morning before he goes to work so I can wash down all my medications and vitamins and go back to sleep for a little while longer.
We’ve managed to stay happily married and madly in love without celebrating one single Valentine’s Day in our entire marriage. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not urging people to boycott the February “Day of Love.” I’m simply suggesting that it might not be worth the power we give it in our lives. It puts a lot of pressure on a relationship, and it rarely lives up to the hype. Instead, I highly recommend taking the time to learn the love language of your other half and then find small ways to cherish them every day of the year.
And never, never put them on hold to talk to an ex.
Your turn: Love it or hate it, I'd love to hear your Valentine story!