Long-term relationships are not for the timid. I have been married for 25 years. Those closest to us would probably say we have made it look easy, even if it wasn’t. I’m going to fill you in on a few secrets of celebrating love in my long-term relationship.
- Love yourself first – This is the secret to success in just about everything. It’s not always easy to do in the midst of a partner or a family. We often choose relationships that fill the gaps in our souls, rather than filling those gaps with our own energy. Having lived it, I don’t believe in mid-life crises. What happens as you get older is that you more clearly see the holes in your heart. Foster it as a birth, a newborn baby, a spiritual awakening, rather than the aftermath as a hurricane or earthquake. Sometimes we skip straight to the disaster, but loving yourself through the process is paramount, regardless of the outcome. You are worth every recovery effort. That doesn’t necessarily mean saving the relationship, nor does it mean leaving everything. Sometimes loving yourself means transitioning out of a marriage, friendship, or family connection, but either way, you have to find your own internal freedom. If you don’t find your internal freedom, that saying “where ever you go, there you are” will tap you on the shoulder (or hit you upside the head with a 2×4) until you do.
- Make every day Valentine’s Day – When I say “I love you,” it always comes from a place of loving myself so well that I have a ton of love to give and I love extending love to others. This wasn’t always the case for me. In the past I have said it out of fear and out of obligation, when there were no loving feelings to go with it.
- Give yourself permission not to celebrate – I am reading Quiet by Susan Cain, and it has validated me on this front in many ways. I am very capable of embracing being the center of attention, but I really love being quiet. I was forced to celebrate my birthday in an extroverted paradigm as a child. I even crawled under the table at the restaurant where I had my 5th birthday party when a makeshift marching band came out banging cymbals and drums. I never wanted to have a birthday party after that, and the influence of my mother and my culture that I was supposed to want one, created a lot of internal stress which I was not equipped to handle, even into adulthood. My husband and I have the same birthday (he is one year older). When he turned 30, I threw a surprise party for him and didn’t tell anyone it was my birthday. For me celebrating isn’t a party, it is time with myself. I just added my birthday to my social media profiles in the last few months, and as my birthday approaches, I am tempted to take it down. It feels like it is for everyone else at the expense of honoring myself. Perhaps I will let it go this year and treat it as an experiment.
- Give yourself permission to release relationships – If you had a parent, spouse, sibling, or friend that thrives on treating you like a doormat, do not feel like you have to celebrate them. Instead, go celebrate yourself for stepping out of the role of doormat. By using discernment in how we extend ourselves outward, we do a better job of caring for ourselves and each other. Relationships often serve their purpose, and we have to move on. Staying in an expired spiritual contract is toxic to everyone.
- Celebrate on a different day – I loathe going out to dinner on Valentine’s day because the restaurants are so overwhelmed that the service and/or the food quality suffers. If we do something special, it doesn’t involve throngs of others celebrating at the same place.
- Celebrate holidays without baggage – I am not one to celebrate holidays much – especially the Hallmark card ones, or the ones that have a lot of family obligation to them. I love celebrating New Year’s, Mardi Gras, Halloween, and other seasonal (Pagan) holidays because they come without any emotional burdens, and can really be fun expressions of true love for me. Passing on Valentine’s Day is easy since I prefer other rituals.
How do you celebrate love?