Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why I Don't Like Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is just a few days away.  Have you made your plans yet for that special "someone" in your life?  Do you have your mushy, we're-so-perfect-for-each-other card all signed and ready to go?  Are you prepared to feel gloriously and giddy in love for a day?

Confession: I don't really like Valentine's Day.  (Sorry, Honey.)

In fact, some years I'd prefer just to skip it altogether.

It might have something to do with the fact that my first and last children have birthdays just before and after Valentine's Day, so I'm always too preoccupied with plans to celebrate those instead of focusing on my husband.  I'm usually exhausted and just a little crabby by the time February 14th rolls around.

But really, I think it has more to do with the fact that I simply cannot manufacture lovey-dovey, over-the-top romantic feelings just because the calendar tells me I should.

Don't get me wrong, I adore my husband.  I love him with all my heart.  Every day. 

Even when I don't like him very much.

I think I just heard you gasp.  "What?  Did you just put it in writing that you don't always like your husband?"

Well, YES.

Some days he makes me crazy.  And I do the same to him!  It's OKAY!  It's part of spending your entire adult life with someone.  Some days you can't get enough of him (or her), and some days you're ready to send him away on a vacation...by himself!

Why?  Because no matter how much you love a person, that person never was and never will be perfect.  And neither will you.  The key is learning to be okay with that reality.

Like so many other people, when Scott and I got married, I had grand visions of how perfectly happy we would be together.  We would live in complete harmony every day.  No conflict, no friction, just bliss.  We would truly be the very first "perfect couple."

This misguided vision assumed a couple of things.  First, that I would bring no flaws into the marriage with me.  Apparently there was nothing objectionable about me, nothing Scott should ever find fault with.  And if there was anything objectionable about Scott, he should quickly alter it so as to meet my expectations.  It also assumed that in each other, Scott and I would find everything we would ever need to be happy and fulfilled.

We say things to each other when we're in love, absurd things that we then print in Valentine's Day and Anniversary cards.  Things like, "you complete me," and "you're perfect for me."

It has been a hard lesson for me to learn that I will never be able to "complete" my husband, nor will he do that for me.  No matter how much we love each other and no matter how hard we want it to be true, our spouses cannot fulfill every need in our lives.  They just can't.

They weren't meant to.

Because the only place we will ever find completion is in Christ. (Check out Colossians 2:9-10.)

And when we expect our spouse to do the work in us that only Jesus can do, we set them up for failure.  We create an environment for our marriage where brokenness and imperfections aren't allowed.  Our spouse is no longer "safe" to bring his humanness, his flaws, to the relationship and know that he will still be loved.  And we carry the pretense that we, ourselves, bring nothing but perfection to the table, thus leaving a good portion of ourselves outside in the cold.

Intimacy - true emotional, spiritual intimacy - cannot take place when we will not or cannot bring our whole person safely into the marriage.

Thankfully, God is teaching me a new reality for marriage.

The truth is, my husband will stumble.  Because he is human, because sin too often finds a way to seep in, because we still function in a broken world.  Because this side of heaven, my husband will never be perfect.

And neither will I.  I will fail more times than I would like to imagine or admit.

But the reality that I am learning to live in is one where it's okay for Scott to be imperfect. It's okay for me to admit that I have flaws.  We can even expect each other to have faults, to experience failures.  And we can decide to love each other, faults and all.  Not in spite of our failures, but through our failures.  As Casting Crowns puts it, we can be "broken together."

I cannot describe to you how I felt the day this truth crystallized in my mind.  (But I'm gonna try!)  It was like stepping outside into the sun after being trapped inside for a week, like leaving the office on Friday evening before a week of vacation.  I imagine it was something like my teacher-husband feels on the first day of summer break.  Freedom!

Suddenly I didn't feel confined by the need to make my husband conform to my ideals. Nor did I want to pretend that I am always right or even always lovable.  Suddenly it felt safe to be real.  And it felt really great to know that I can bring all my imperfections to my marriage and that I can invite my husband to do the same, and that together as one flesh we can do life together.  We can help each other through the hard times and celebrate with one another through the good.

This, my friends is LOVE.

(By the way, this isn't as new of a concept as I make it out to be.  Check out what Paul had to say on the subject in Colossians 3:12-15.)

So, back to Valentine's Day.  I'm still not a fan of the so-called "holiday," and I just can't bring myself to buy Scott some cheesy, sentimental card.  But I am looking forward to spending some quality time with him.  And I may have something a little silly-romantic up my sleeve.


(Love you, Scott. :) )

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