Bless my dear husband, he suggested that it might be nice to do something this year for Valentine’s Day – that perhaps once in a while for birthdays and holidays, we should at least acknowledge the day.

I responded that my idea of a great Valentine’s Day would be getting the cobwebs off the house and cleaning the garage.

When I apologized for being a little negative about it, he said, “A little?”

Maybe romance is dead for me.

But what Valentine’s Day has become feels very much like manipulation and unfulfilled expectations, with a bit of guilt and “show me you love me on this day above all others or else I’ll feel like a worthless worm”, thrown in for good measure.

It seems damaging to our progress as women, and an absolute minefield for men.

Remember when you were a kid?

When you made little cards for your classmates and the teacher and got all nervous about giving them out, but really it was just a beautiful exercise to show your friends that you cared about them?

That’s what I’d like Valentine’s Day to be.

A day we show our best friend that we really, truly care about them.

Without expectation, without fanfare, and without needless purchases of more stuff.

I think we’ve become hung up on what love is supposed to look like, and forgotten what it is.

True love is the drudgery. The dishes. The homework. Getting up in the night with kids – when they’re sick.

Romance is for amateurs. True love is washing vomit covered sheets. @SoniaVoldseth (Click to Tweet!)

Here’s what unconditional love looks like to me.

When my husband cleans the crusty blender, without giving me helpful tips about rinsing it – that feels like unconditional love.

When he gets home and I tell him I’m putting myself in time out, he gets on with what needs to be done. I try to do the same for him.

When he says, “Are you going to yoga today?”,  knowing that’s what I want to do more than anything else, that’s long term commitment.

I like flowers. And chocolate. But if I had to choose, it would be the kitchen clean-up. Every time.

We’ve bought into an idea of love that’s not real. An idea that’s based on jewelry and greeting card commercials. An idea that tells us we’re not enough unless someone shows us with flowers. This is just not true, and it skews an appreciation of what our partners do every single day, or at least many of them.

Relationships are hard enough without setting someone else up to fulfill us, or complete us, or affirm us.

It’s great if we have someone in our corner. Of course. We cannot deny the importance of having someone to help us along. Maya Angelou said,

If we have someone who loves us—I don’t mean who indulges us, but who loves us enough to be on our side—then it’s easier to grow resilience.”

That’s the beauty of having someone we can count on. To help us grow whatever it is we need to: resilience, self-worth, confidence.

Not to do it FOR us, but to stand alongside us. To give us a mirror. To give us a hand.

What if we looked at Valentine’s Day a little bit more like that? A celebration of the one who is helping to be our best selves, no matter how hard that journey is.

Not the one who completes us. But the one who’s in the trenches alongside us.

Happy Valentine’s Day lovelies.

 Sonia Voldseth is a holistic life coach and therapist who helps people find their own answers and access joy. She believes that mental and emotional wellness is a daily practice and that our individual commitment to it means a better world for all. Sign up to get her monthly Happiness Hacks. You can also find her on Twitter or Facebook.



Image courtesy of Gabby Orcutt.