This may sound unromantic…
…but earlier this month, B and I decided NOT to celebrate Valentine’s Day. No cards, no flowers, no gifts.
Instead we decided to say one nice thing to the other, face to face, during a quiet moment. This wasn’t just an I-like-your-haircut kind of nice thing. It also wasn’t meant to be a You-are-better-than-me-at kind of thing either. No, we decided our one nice thing would be based on something we love about the other in our lives today.
We already had a babysitter on the books for Saturday afternoon so we could get our taxes done. (A hot date, I know.) It rivals our LAST date when we got a babysitter to clean out our garage. What can I say? We. Are. Wild. B and I decided to reward ourselves for being responsible, tax-paying adults by going out to our favorite Indian restaurant. And what better time to say our one nice thing than over a delicious curry dish?
True to form for my husband, B had been brainstorming his one nice thing all week. His sentiment was perfect and funny and poignant and eloquent. Suffice it to say that he left me teary between forkfuls of palak paneer.
As for me, I can’t even muster an earnest look-him-in-the-eye I love you on a normal day, without blubbering. And I’m also long winded. So my one nice thing became more of a one nice, long, meandering speech. I didn’t go into ugly cry, though, which I consider to be a major victory.
The whole experience took less than 10 minutes and left us feeling all love-dovey and wonderful. I was a little surprised at how amazing it was, actually. I mean, it’s not HARD to say one nice thing to the man I love. Something about the intention of the activity made it feel special; it required planning and forethought. I wanted my one nice thing to be AWESOME because my husband is so awesome. Even more, I eagerly looked forward to hearing what he had to say.
And let’s be honest, my husband is the one person in this world who sees the absolute worst of me. He’s there when I gossip or judge or when I’m being petty. He sees me when I’ve used up my reserves of patience with the kids and downshift into “just turn the darn TV on so I can get a break” parenting mode. Even worse, he’s often the target of my frustrations, my pithy complaining, my unprocessed anger (and resulting apologetic pathetic-ness. Pathetic-nicity? Pathetic-issitude?)
So it’s particularly special when this man has something nice to say to me. What I learned is that there’s a special magical about hearing what your partner loves about you right now, today.
The opposite is also true. By brainstorming my one nice thing, I spent lots of time thinking about all the great things about my husband. I got to think about what kind of couple we are and all the qualities that make our marriage ours.
I tried to broach this topic of family branding in a post a while back…
Businesses have brands. Do families? We may not have a logo but we all have our own ways of doing things, our own ways of living our weird little lives. Does the way we celebrate our birthdays, the way we have dance parties in the kitchen, the way we fight create a family trademark?
I love the idea that we get to create a brand for my kids’ childhood. We get to define what makes us US. I’m not so concerned that it be unique, just that it be organic to who we really are.
The thing about identity (mine, yours, a family’s) is that even if you’re not actively defining it, your lack of action itself becomes part of the identity. So I choose to actively define my family’s brand.”
This point is even more poignant about couplehood. Once we took a moment to define what’s great about each other – what we love about our marriage today – I felt this surge of pride to be part of this US. I’m so grateful to have hitched my star to our wagon. I love where we are headed.
I was reminded that B and I have an identity as a couple that is a complete departure from who either of us is as an individual. We challenge, inspire, confuse, support, and infuriate the other. The result is a couple that is constantly growing. Changing. Evergreen.
All this goodness came from NOT celebrating Valentine’s Day. All this gratitude and love and warm squishiness came from giving each other five days to think about and say just one. nice. thing.
One thing’s for sure…I can’t wait for Valentine’s Day next year.
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