Some say romance is dead. I say, “Maybe that’s okay.”
Stay with me. I promise I’m not against love. Hardly. I mean, I’ve read “Pride and Prejudice.” I wanted my own Mr. Darcy.
My problem with romance started with Valentine’s Day.
When I was first married I was relieved to think all my former Valentine’s Day woes were finally behind me. No more wondering if I had a date. No more girls’ nights out where I consumed my weight in Chinese food while watching “Pride and Prejudice” for the millionth time.
I mean, I was married now. I had Valentine’s Day insurance. Tom and I were (and are) committed to loving each other forever. Valentine’s Day was a no brainer now, right?
Picture this: February 14th, 2009. Moments after waking up I shoved a beautifully wrapped gift into Tom’s hands. It was a beautiful leather-bound notebook I had purchased the week before. He’s an idea guy and I thought he’d appreciate having a nice place to keep his thoughts. He loved it.
I went to work. Tom worked from home. I was eager to get home that day. Surely Tom was waiting to surprise me flowers. Or something. I mean, it was Valentine’s Day after all.
When I got back to our apartment Tom handed me an envelope. This is it, I thought. What could it be? Maybe a gift certificate to my favorite store? A trip to the spa? Oh! Maybe a special romantic adventure!!
I was so excited. I hurried to open the envelope. Inside was this:
If Romance wasn’t dead yet, Tom was doing his best to beat it down with a stick.
Sure, the “card” was funny. Tom is funny. It’s one of the reasons I married the guy. But as I waited for my real card and real gift and slowly realized that this was going to be it, my heart sunk a little.
My expectations for the day were shattered.
Looking back I realize I was making Mt. Everest out of nothing. But there were some deeply embedded beliefs within me on what special days were supposed to be like when you’re with someone you love.
To be clear, Tom is wonderful. He’s an incredible husband, father, and man. Romance just isn’t really his thing. I mean, check out his track record:
– My first birthday of our marriage he bought me three huge food storage bins. Every girl’s dream, right?
– Our first anniversary his only gift was a super sweet letter… written on a slightly torn sheet of lined yellow legal paper.
Now before you either A) feel sorry for me or B) think I’m the biggest jerk in the world (I tend to vote for “B”), there’s a reason why I’m sharing this.
Valentine’s Day isn’t about “romance.”
At least, it shouldn’t be. The problem is romance is generally built upon a shaky foundation of self-centered expectations. I blame Mr. Darcy, Hallmark, and every romantic comedy ever created.
We feed these ideas of what we think is the appropriate way to show love, and when those expectations aren’t met we get side smacked by our own disappointment. Even worse, when those expectations are met they become a measuring stick to rate all future romantic gestures. It becomes impossible to maintain, and disappointment once again rears its ugly head.
Here’s the thing. Love is not about meeting our own expectations.
Love is about connection.
If you take away my birthday, Valentine’s Day, and our anniversary, the other 362 days of the year were full of bliss, joy, and love. Why? Because Tom is incredibly thoughtful, giving, and supportive. And because I wasn’t expecting anything “romantic” on those days. Those days weren’t about me. They were about us.
So what’s a better gift to give this Valentine’s Day?
When it comes to marriage all the experts agree: Touch is important. Why? Because touch builds connection. To touch someone is to acknowledge their presence. Touch communicates. It’s comforting, confirming, and grounding.
That’s why Tom and I have a new tradition for special holidays. We skip the flowers and gifts and we spend time together, really connecting. And one of the best ways we’ve found to do that is through massage.
But not just any massage. Until recently Tom’s version of massage usually involved me screaming out in pain. It was bad. Thankfully, we’ve moved past those terrifying days and have finally found the secret sauce to an experience we both love:
Melt: Massage for Couples.
This is not your typical gift, and that’s the beauty of it. This online program features short, easy to understand videos created by Australian professional massage therapist, Denis Merkas. He, along with his stunning wife, Emma, have created this course with you in mind.
I’ll be honest, I was a little hesitant to watch the first video. I mean, the idea of learning how to “couple” massage by watching another couple sounded really, I don’t know… awkward. But seriously, the videos are beautifully done. No awkwardness, not even a little. And because I know you’re wondering, let me ease your mind: There is no nudity. Everything is very PG rated.
The instruction is spot on. Tom went from jackhammer hands to suave and sophisticated. And I learned how to massage him without getting cramped hands or a sore back (something I always struggled with).
The best part was that the videos created a setting for us to really connect. We weren’t focused on paying bills, errands, or the kids. We also weren’t worried about presents or expectations. We got to focus on each other. Completely. It’s been good for our happiness. Good for our marriage.
Make a date night this Valentine’s Day.
Life is busy, and it’s easy to put the relationship on the back burner while you deal with kids, work, or whatever else is on your “to do” list. Instead of stressing about finding a gift that only feeds expectations this Valentine’s Day, make an effort to reconnect. Tom and I made a special date night using the Melt videos, and without a doubt it was our favorite date night we’ve had in the 8 years we’ve been together. We’re excited to work our way throughout the whole program. Lots of date nights to come thanks to Melt!
Give your best Valentine’s gift ever.
Guess what? I just checked and the Melt Video Series is on sale! Regular retail prices for the program is $147, but right now you can get the program for just $89. The sale ends Feb 14th.
Valentine’s Day is finally a no-brainer.