Why can’t Valentine’s Day be everyday?

Valentine’s day has come and gone and I’m sure it made a lot of people happy, but it also left some feeling sad and lonely. I must admit I used to really get into the whole concept of needing to get a big Valentine heart filled with chocolates and a romantic card filled with loving accolades. I still find it a lovely day to spend with the one I love, but divorce, maturity on my part, and a deeper understanding of what love means has given me a different perspective about Valentine’s Day.

I really want to work on everyday being a Valentine Day. That probably sounds foolish on some level, but if we truly believe in the fact that to love and be loved is the metaphor of the Valentine message than trying to have it on a daily basis is not that farfetched.

We bandy the word love about to describe a myriad of things we enjoy. “I love chocolate, movies, eating out, going on a vacation, sleeping in, and on and on. How often have you heard people say those things? But “real” love is not about the aforementioned. They’re really about things that delight. I can delight in a variety of things. To love requires a host of ingredients.

Scientists have discovered one of the ingredients by studying prairie voles. “The prairie vole is special for having pair bonding with its partner. The male has a continuous contact with its female, which lasts for all of their lives. If the female prairie vole dies, the male does not look for a new partner. Moreover, this constant relationship is more social than sexual. For this bonding to occur, the male must stay one day with the female after they breed. “

The outcome of this study is related to the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin. Human beings have the same propensity. When we touch, and cuddle we release these hormones which help to bond us. Does this all sound like “too much information”. On the contrary I find it fascinating. Love needs touching and hugging to sustain it.

Touch is an important facet, but there are also a list of other ingredients which help couples stay in right relationship to one another. The following traits have been designated to be a critical part of a lasting relationship by the Gottman Institute, leading researchers in the field of sustainable partnerships. Individuals who have endured the ups and downs of long-term relationships have strong friendships, trust, make allowances for each others foibles, create and help to foster each others dreams, use admiration instead of contempt ,manage conflict, have a shared value system, and nurture one another through gratitude and positive messages. And for me one of the most important is to learn to laugh together often!






“Shoulding” on ourselves and living with regrets.

I wonder how many of us live our lives going over our regrets on a daily basis. I know I used to spend a great deal of energy ruminating over what I “should” have done. It included ; could I have been a better parent, why did I get divorced, might I have been a more devoted daughter, and what if I had been less invested in my career, would that have made everyone around me happier? I have also self flagellated over gaining weight, not flossing every night, having hair that’s too curly and ad infinitum, ad nauseum.  Regrets have a place in our lives, if they wake us up to attempting not to repeat the past or if they give us new insights and possibilities. But the majority of us seem to savor our regrets in some dark and mysterious way as if feeling the guilt over and over will somehow free us from them or the pain they inflict upon us. There is research that says “swimming to the island of regrets” can help instill a healthy conscience but make sure you can swim back. After all never feeling any regret for untowardly behavior is the basis for being a sociopath or psychopath. One of the biggest problems individuals have that continually fret and share their regrets is that there are always individuals who have memories like elephants who simply won’t let you forget even if you want to. My mother loved to reiterate over and over her mantra “Didn’t I tell you”! She had the rhetoric down pat and could have given it as a graduation speech at Harvard. There are others with a similar mindset that I have shared the errors of my ways, who are masters at reminding me of them over and over.  In fact if you allow them to hold you hostage, you’ll be their prisoner for life. They like my mother have taught me to practice discernment as to what I say and to whom about my regrets. I have also learned to forgive myself for being human . Scott Peck, the author of “The Road Less Traveled” made himself famous with the first line in his book, “Life is difficult”. Yes it is and often we set out to do all the right things for ourselves and those we love, but “stuff happens” and we make decisions based on immaturity, and unfulfilled needs. One thing is for sure, our time on this planet is very short, and so we must try to focus on moving forward in the best possible way by learning from our pasts so that our days are filled with the joy of what we did right rather than what we didn’t do.