The Over-Emphasis of Valentine’s Day
In the world of divorce, Valentine’s Day is a dreaded occurrence.
Some of my clients feel sad or angry or just very alone when this day rolls around. It’s marketed as a time to celebrate love and romance, and I’m in the business of ending relationships in very final and lasting ways.
Over the years, I’ve done media interviews about how it is possible to “love” your ex and why you might want to. In my work as a Collaborative Divorce attorney, I focus on finding peaceful and harmonious resolution to an ending marriage, especially when children are present.
But at the end of the day, I can’t stop this holiday coming and I can’t change how our society reveres passionate romantic love and scowls on splitting up. There is so much judgment about how a failed relationship is a personal failure, and how being alone is something to lament.
I prefer to look at it so differently.
First, I’ve been taught by scholars and philosophers that the way we define love in the western world is flawed. We see it as preferential attachment as opposed to universal understanding.
That’s step one. See love as a relational thing. I see the humanity in you, and you see it in me. I don’t cling to you, and I don’t need you. I can relate to you. I can share space and time, I can live alongside you, but with or without you, I am complete, whole, wonderful.
Step two is to embrace the notion that there is nothing wrong with being alone. When we can be intimate in knowing ourselves, and really appreciate how special and unique we are at the core, we can find true happiness.
Happiness and success and a life well-lived should not depend on who walks beside us, or who tumbles in the bed next to us at night. I rise in the morning to greet myself in the mirror and that is as good a start to the day as any.
Recently, I became a representative of Our Family in Two Homes, a resource to guide divorcing families to a seamless, compatible carrying-on beyond their split. It aligns with my preference for Collaborative Divorce as a humane way to end a relationship.
It’s a workbook that clients can use to get themselves on solid ground before proceeding with divorce. So much of this resource guides clients to self-reflection and discovery, to communication styles and the values they want for their family and their life.
We could all benefit from such a deep dive!
All of this is to say that I refuse to be sidelined by mistaken notions of what it means to be whole and full of love.
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