“When you’ve been married as long as we have, Valentine’s Day is nothing special.” Like me, have you heard comments like this from friends who have been married to the same person for a number of years? How about your relationship? In your marriage, is the bloom off the rose, romance gone for good, just best of friends now? In contrast, like fine wine, has your marital bond become ever more precious with each passing year? Does Valentine’s remain a very special occasion for the two of you?
I know as a couple you have had more than a few distractions over the years: career, children, paying the mortgage, simply existing in today’s complex society. I know people in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s may not appear as fit, energetic or downright good looking as they were in their 20’s. Are these excuses really a valid reason for sending Cupid away from life’s second half?
The notion that Valentine’s Day love is reserved for the young simply is not true! Our local newspaper today contains a picture of a couple married for 78 years hugging each other like newlyweeds. It also pictures an 82 year-old retired executive (who looks more like 62) and his third wife (the prior two died of natural causes) lovingly posing as they describe to a reporter the joys of their latest adventures.
Before you right today off as “just another day”, here are a few Valentine “love tactics” you might try:
- At least for this one day, make your spouse the undivided center of your attention. Demonstrate just why your spouse remains central to your life. Begin the day with absolutely no agenda other than to satisfy your spouse’s desires. Go off alone and ask him or her, “Honey, please tell me ideally how you would like to spend the day. What can I do to make this a great day for you?” Note: if like 2012, Valentine’s falls on a busy workday, you can always wait until the weekend when job responsibilities won’t interfere.
- Imagine the ideal life partner for your spouse. How closely do you fit that profile? If far from his or her ideal, how much are you willing to change? Can you satisfy your spouse’s innermost needs and desires without abandoning your own core values and cherished ambitions? I presume your spouse also wants to make you happy and fulfilled. Can the two of you meet in the middle and both find joy? A genuine ongoing interest in the daily emotions, dreams and desires of the person closet to you is an enduring formula for restoring and sustaining midlife marriage.
- Set aside at least one night a week and one weekend a month for just you two. When no one tells you what to do, what do you two enjoy the most: attending church, eating out, socializing with friends, going to a movie, boating on the lake or hiking in the woods? No matter how long married, every couple needs time alone just for two. If you have young children, arrange a sitter. If you don’t wish to go out, simply unwind, cuddle up by the fire and…(you know what)!
- If one or both of you are less than fully satisfied with appearance or energy, why not launch a diet and exrecise regimen together? Take extra time out each day for grooming. Launch a contest over who can lose the most weight. Not only will pounds melt away, both of you will gain energy and each will begin to notice once again how good your life partner looks. I’ll bet by next Valentine’s Day, you two will experience a far greater interest in good old-fashioned romance.
Like so many other good things in life, romance, a spirit of adventure and positive expectations are not restricted to youth. You need not abandon notions of a romantic evening with your spouse simply because you are over 40, 50 or beyond. A long time age, you staked future happiness upon the same life partner you remain with today. Back then, you cherished spending many long hours with your spouse, why not now? Resolve today to invite your spouse to accompanying you down a pathway where every day becomes just like Valentine’s Day in your hearts.
By the way, my loving wife of 41 years, Gloria and I often treat Valentine’s as just another day. Perhaps it is because our wedding anniversary is the day before, February 13 and by the time Valentine’s rolls around we’re pretty exhausted!