Valentine’s day is here. Sometimes we assume that if you’ve celebrated one or twenty Valentine’s days with your honey, the preparation will be the same, and you’ll know exactly what your spouse expects. The reality is we may find ourselves year to year still wondering if what we’re doing for our spouse is actually fulfilling or satisfying their needs. You may do and get things for your spouse based on what advertisers say you should do, or what you think you would like if you were in the other’s shoes. But do we really know? Have you asked for clarification? Do you tell your spouse what makes you fulfilled?
If we are feeling the symptoms of an empty nest AND one or more empty love tanks (we have ten) at Valentine’s, then it may take all of our energy just to summon up the effort to recognize the value our spouse brings to our marriage. Forget a card or flowers or even the thought of a romantic evening. This may have all stopped long ago. Some of us may merely be throwing money or words at our relationship, and think it is still working, but our heart hardened a few years back. And now in addition to the kids leaving home, we are faced with the dilemma of staying in the same car with our spouse or looking elsewhere for a new car to make us feel young or in control.
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However, if you think back on all of the Valentine’s you’ve celebrated with your partner, you may discover it is like looking at a scrapbook of snap shots depicting the state of your marriage as you celebrated this day each year that screams “be romantic or else!” Trying to remember where and what you and your spouse did for each of the past Valentine’s may be a fun way of re-connecting, laughing, and returning value to the time you’ve spent together raising yourselves.
If you have been like every other busy family in past years slogging through work and a myriad of after-school activities, sports practice, work related social functions, chores, fitting in workouts, running errands, and paying bills—when your kids get ready to or have just left home to pursue their interests and make their way in the world, the house can feel empty all of a sudden. You wake up looking at your partner, and you don’t know who you are let alone who the other person is anymore. Sometimes this wake-up call even occurs before your kids graduate from high school! Realization dawns that all of the time you spent lavishing unconditional love and support on your kids as you grew them into the young adults they are today—all that time is about to become available again.