Dan and I don’t do holidays.
Whether it is because of how we grew up not really acknowledging holidays (at least me), or because of our introverted and somewhat subdued personalities, we’ve never really embraced the concept that we need special occasions to show each other how much we care. Not to say that holidays are bad or that other couples shouldn’t celebrate birthdays, or anniversaries, or Valentine’s Day, it’s just not something that we do. No-fun Nancies, we are.
And, looking through our social media feeds, it can be easy to get pangs of ‘why not me’, or of straight up jealousy when seeing other couples celebrate in ways that are unique, pricey or touching. It’s easy to compare our relationships to the ones we see on our screens, and it’s easy to feel like something is missing from ours. This is the main issue with seeing only the ‘highlight reel’ of everyone’s lives online and not the entire story. Trust me, no relationship is perfect.
The thing I’ve found, though, at least for Dan and I, is that we have learned what works for us, and we make an effort to appreciate it and block out everything else.
Short story: Last Saturday Dan and I went out for a quick trip to the city to buy some winter boots and use our gift certificates from Christmas (#marriagedate). While waiting for our meals I casually remarked how I was really loving the lime that was in my drink; just a simple comment to pass the time. On our way home we stopped for gas at our local convenience store, and after paying, Dan comes out with a clear plastic bag in his hand, filled with a small, green, lime. A lime for my drinks at home. Such a simple gesture, but it’s exactly what our version romance is made of.
Do you know your “Love Language“? It’s a concept that has been going around for years, and the basic idea is that we all have a way that we enjoy being loved. There are 5 types: Words of Affirmation, Touch, Acts of Service, Quality Time and Gifts. We all tend to have 1 language that we enjoy receiving more than others based on our own personalities, histories and needs. There are many online quizzes and articles to help you discover what is your preferred love language, but I’m sure that just by reading the 5 categories above you have an idea of what yours is, and maybe even your partner as well.
For us, traditional, large and ‘special occasion’ type gifts are last on both our lists (as in almost non-existent), so the idea of forcing either one of us to give each other gifts-for Valentine’s Day or our birthdays, for example-serves no purpose at making either one of us feel loved. Dan’s primary language is Touch, and mine is Acts of Service, and we both follow up closely with Quality Time/Words of Affirmation. For us, just being together (like within touching distance on the couch) and doing little things for each other, such as filling up the car and making each other’s drinks, is the key to being *our version* of happy. We weren’t always so aware of this in the beginning but after 15 years we now know what we need and we make sure to prioritize it (and acknowledge it, which is super important in general and falls into our “Words of Affirmation” category).
Is it nice to sometimes receive gifts? Of course. But a 99 cent lime does more for me-and us-than any big red box of chocolates or expensive necklace in the middle of February.
(But again, more power to you if you or your partner’s Love Language is gifts, buy the best of what you can buy! This isn’t about what is right or wrong, but about finding what is right for you both and not falling into an online comparison or a ‘should’ trap.)
How about you, do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Do you enjoy giving and receiving gifts? What is your version of romance?