By Patricia Baer
Valentine’s Day is the one day out of the year we are guaranteed to assess the state of our relationships. Not that a person might not be evaluating their marriage or dating situation more frequently, but the holiday at times feels similar to an annual performance appraisal. How you and your partner are doing as a couple is reflected in the way you celebrate the day together.
If you find yourself or your mate leaving heart-shaped love notes around the apartment, you are probably still blissfully blinded by the first flush of love.
If you are the recipient of a bouquet of flowers with a night out of dinner and a movie, it most likely means you and your significant other are comfortably content (and maybe even a little happy for an excuse to spend an evening away from the kids).
If your celebration consists of a peck on the cheek and a night in front of the television, odds are you have been married 30-plus years and the former thrill of the holiday is something you look back on nostalgically, preferring now to maintain your regular routine than to go through all the hassle. You have been together for over 30 years, after all. Is that not enough to show how much you love each other? Why do you have to go to the trouble of dealing with a silly holiday?
If you are the recipient of a lavish holiday weekend, be suspicious.
One year, finding myself free from the mandatory review and feeling slightly down on love, I decided to go with an anti-Valentine’s Day celebration. Instead of a night curling up on the couch with some ice cream and rom-coms, I decided to indulge in an evening of what represented my opinion of relationships at the time, a trio of horror movies. To my surprise, they offered more important lessons on dating and what to avoid when looking for a potential mate than any romantic comedy I had previously encountered.
For a while viewing the following became a cherished annual tradition and valuable relationship reminders: “My Bloody Valentine” with its message of never second-guessing yourself about breaking up with that ex, “Valentine” in which viewers are taught you should really attend more school reunions because that former classmate might become someone else entirely as an adult, and “Psycho” with a lesson most are familiar with, that you will never be good enough for a guy too attached to his mother.
Once my bitterness over the breakup with whatever-his-name-was faded, so did my interest in Valentine’s Day slasher marathons. This year I am taking the advice of a wrapper from a piece of chocolate that suggested “Be your own Valentine.”
This will probably involve a last minute trip to the store for some roses, a night of sushi, and maybe something from the on-demand menu. I will not go overboard, though. Myself and I have been together for over 30 years, after all.