This was one of a series of nine articles for print publication that I researched and wrote for Crossroads for Women/Carrefour des Femmes. The subject was an emotional one…Family Violence.
My dear Valentine:
This Valentine’s Day, please don’t tell me you love me with flowers and chocolates, or even a sappy card, just so you can brag to your friends that you earned brownie points. I’d rather have your undivided attention, just for an evening. It will cost you nothing but your time.
And don’t bother buying me that last-minute guilt present or making empty promises you cannot keep. I’m smarter than that and my heart needs to be warmed more than once or twice a year.
Instead, love me in small ways; love me in the every day things you do and with the words you say. Love me with a look, a touch, a gesture, a squeeze of my hand.
Love me today, like there may not be tomorrow.
Love me by encouraging me to be the best I can be, by understanding my need to be valued by you.
Love me by treating me as an equal, not a subordinate, or even a possession.
Love me by being pleased with my successes, not threatened. Love me by consciously choosing to speak a compliment rather than voice an insult.
Love me by not criticizing my ways just to make you feel superior, but by offering constructive advice in a genuine spirit of support. Love me even during our disagreements by respecting that we both have valuable opinions, even if they differ.
Recognize that your callous words can cut me to the core; so choose them wisely – you can’t take them back once they’re spoken. Realize that over time, hurtful actions can scrape away at my self-esteem and confidence in a manner that is difficult to heal.
Love me in the small things of every day, like scraping the frost from my car windows in the morning, or vacuuming the house, unasked. Love me by cleaning the toilet or changing the empty toilet paper roll, or picking up your dirty laundry. Love me by offering to scrub my back in the tub, or making supper on Friday night, or bringing home a movie you know I would like.
Understand that when your daily actions show you are considerate of my feelings, it is easier for me to be considerate of yours.
These aren’t the wise signs of love that little girls are taught. When I was young, no one told me that love wasn’t the raw passion and brilliant romance that I saw in movies.
I had to learn by experience that love waxes and wanes, rises and falls, and then evens out into a breadcrumb trail of small, everyday things that guide us in and out of dark places and around obstacles and through challenges…and finally – just maybe – lead us to the top of the mountain where we can see clearly where we’ve been and where we are going. Where suddenly, we know we didn’t get there alone; we had help.
That’s love. And that’s what I really want this Valentine’s Day.