Every February, social media is flooded with pictures of couples expressing their love. Roses and chocolates and love notes and fancy date nights. We get together with our friends and hear about the wonderful evening they spent with their husbands, how surprised they were and how special they felt. What a nice reminder it was of what a great man they have.
But what if you can’t join in?
What if your husband is just really BAD at Valentine’s Day? Or worse, what if he didn’t make an effort at all? What if your marriage is struggling? What if every photo, every Facebook post, reminds you of how disappointing your union is? How do you survive a week where you are bound to be hurt by the joy of others?
Here are 4 ways to deal with deal with disappointment on Valentine’s Day:
1. Don’t Get Sucked into the Comparison Trap
Maybe this is the week you need to take a break from social media. Maybe now is the time to turn off those romantic comedies and beloved chick flicks. If you know this holiday is going to bring discontentment and frustration, then it’s probably for the best if you remove sources of comparison.
There are a few issues where comparison is concerned, and this is where you really know yourself and your situation best. You need to ask yourself: am I being overly critical of my spouse or is there really an issue with our marriage? I have asked myself this very question many times, and in most cases, for me, the answer was a critical spirit.
I was creating dissatisfaction for myself by feeding jealousy of other people’s marriages. Rather than appreciating all my husband did RIGHT, I would focus on all that was WRONG with his Valentine’s Day plans. If this is you, then give your husband a gift this year: love him unconditionally, be satisfied and grateful for who HE is. It might be the greatest gift he ever receives.
But if there is really an issue with your marriage, if Valentine’s Day is the least of your worries, then you must guard your heart all the more. Your situation is tender and your heart is already wounded. Don’t cause yourself any more pain by lingering on the best versions of everyone else. Social media can be cruel. It can show us the highlight reel of everyone’s lives, leaving out what really happens behind closed doors. If your marriage is struggling, the carefully curated lives of others can seem all the more unattainable. Do yourself a favor and log off. Your heart will thank you.
2. Ask, Seek, Knock
Pray. Yes. But more than that. Pray for strength to control your critical spirit. Pray for peace and contentment in your marriage. Pray for healing in your fractured relationship. Pray for God’s guidance in strengthening and repairing your relationship. But go beyond that.
Ask friends for help. Let other’s in. Tell them this is a hard week for you. That you struggle with comparison and jealousy. That your marriage is in a hard place. Tell your dear friends that you are happy for them, but you need help not coveting what they have. They will wrap you up in prayers and hugs and transform this holiday.
Ask your husband for what you actually want. I know. For some of us, this negates the gift. We need to get over that. He can’t read your mind. He doesn’t know your thoughts. And some people just aren’t good at holidays. Some people just aren’t great with gifts and words. Help the guy out! Tell him what you want and be thankful for his efforts to meet your needs.
Seek help with your marriage. If your marriage is in a hard place, maybe this holiday is just the motivation you need to start seeing a counselor or finally read that book or take that class. Look for ways to fix the problem, and seek assistance from an outside source like a pastor or counselor to walk alongside you. You are not alone in this fight.
3. Celebrate Outside the Box
Reclaim this holiday! Give it a makeover! Think outside of the marital box and celebrate love in all its forms.
Get together with girlfriends to celebrate your love for one another. Serve those less fortunate in your community. Find someone in your congregation that might be spending this holiday alone: a widow or single mom, perhaps. Make this holiday about telling your loved ones how much they mean to you, ALL of them, not just your husband and kids. Make this holiday about serving the unloved or rejected. Show the kind of love Christ called us to, and watch as He uses your gift for His good.
4. Return to Your First Love
A Date with Jesus is always a good idea. If you know date night with your hubby is going to be a disappointment for whatever reason, then perhaps you can look forward to reconnecting with your first love instead. Set aside time to connect with Jesus at a coffee shop or over dessert. Bring your favorite journal or the book that first brought you to Him. Take a drive and listen to worship music, meditate on Scripture.
We often make time to cook a special dinner, or go out on a fancy date. We rearrange our schedule and hire a babysitter, so we can rekindle our marriage. But when was the last time we took that kind of effort to spend the evening with Jesus? He is the only one who fills our needs completely. I often think, if my husband loved me perfectly, if he never made mistakes or fell short in his job as a spouse, then what need would I have for Christ? In a very real way, my husband’s shortcomings push me toward my God, and it’s time I embraced that. It’s time I remembered there is only one person who will never disappoint, never fail, never leave, never forsake me. There is only one person who can love me perfectly on Valentine’s Day and everyday. May I find contentment in Him today and forever.
Image Credit: Thinkstock.com
Marie Osborne is a wife, mom, coffee drinker, loud laugher, & Jesus follower. When she isn't laughing with her husband, texting with her girlfriends, singing with her preschooler, or chasing after her toddler twins, she's probably writing at her blog while binge watching Netflix.