Valentine’s Day is here again.
Times have surely changed, as my husband and I celebrate with a little girl, ours, who is now two. We won’t don fancy clothing or reserve a spot at a restaurant with fine table linens. I may not abandon my gym clothes, and my hair might be pulled back all day.
It will be a typical day at our house. We’ll order our favorite Indian dishes and eat them at home. We’ll sit with our daughter in the living room, and we’ll introduce her to one of our favorite movies, “Toy Story.” We will sit. We will eat. She will get up to dance to old school tappers and new street hoofers on YouTube. We’ll pull up videos for her and sling them to the TV.
We will laugh. We will kiss and hug, and we will be grateful. We will take a long drive at dusk to remote parts of town. We will talk here and there, and she will sit in the back, holding a book or a doll.
I will hold her extra close at bedtime and rock her to sleep. My husband will serve up a late-night snack of popcorn. We will be exhausted, per usual. He will be snoring while I settle in to read.
I’m a marriage therapist, so people ask me what makes a good marriage. I hate this question because I don’t know the answer. Do what works. Do it with integrity, honesty and love, pure and selfless.
Here are my three things (for now):
Nobody wants to hear that marriage is a business relationship. Fine, but it is.
- Love your job?
- Passionate about your career?
- Did you fall in love with it?
- Worry about your performance?
- Feel your co-workers don’t get it sometimes?
- Attend refresher courses, conventions, or retreats for your job to hone in on what works and what doesn’t?
- Hate certain menial tasks of your job that are non-negotiable?
- Think you are underpaid and overworked?
- Walk out of your workplace regularly with a sense of pride that you accomplished something meaningful?
- Feel that you are making a difference?
That is love. Love is an investment of time, energy, resources, self-evaluation, and assessment. It’s hard work to love. Love is active. It is never at rest. Work. Be stunned at the results of your work done with honor and sacrifice.
There are times to be absolutely, unwaveringly serious. Do not neglect these opportunities to offer and demonstrate support for your significant other. Never diminish or trivialize pain. It only hurts you and your loved ones at the end of the day.
Also, play! Have fun. Be 18 again. Don’t take everything so seriously. Be in your body. Make love. Go swimming. Eat comfort food. Play in the dirt. This is your life. This is your love story. You get to author it, rewrite it, edit it, make additions or cut out parts or characters that don’t fit the narrative of your truth.
Have fun. Be silly. Life is so, so short. Respect one another and stay within the limits of safety. Enjoy the gifts of your body and spirit.
3. Have no secrets.
I’m done with secrets. They hurt people. They hurt you. Truth is always best, and it always wins. Be transparent. Do more and talk less.
Be there. Be present. Put down your iPhone. Hold one another. Stroke each other’s faces. Be unified as intended. Do not allow yourself to get out of sync. Regroup when you do.
Let no one get in the way of your relationship. Speak kind words of one another to your family, to your partner’s family, and to your friends and acquaintances.
Stop expecting perfection—of others and of yourself. Humanity is beautiful. Love it and treasure it. We are not living in the 50s. Dresses and pearls are not—nor were they ever!—the reality.
Don’t waste precious time. Just be there. Show up and serve with a pure heart. Secrets suck. Don’t do secrets.
Unless you are secretly taking me to Bora Bora in the morning, and you want to surprise me in a happy way, don’t plan on me keeping your secrets, nor will I keep the truth from you.
If you are looking for it, though, my passport is in the top left drawer in the kitchen. I have it hidden there.
Author: Monica Stevens-Kirby
Editor: Caroline Beaton