This year will mark the seventh time in eight years of dating and marriage that my husband and I will be apart for Valentine’s Day. Thanks to the military, deployments, and training, Valentine’s Day without my valentine have become the norm, rather than the exception. The one year we were together, I was two months pregnant and we attended a wedding, after taking a cross-country redeye flight the night before – not exactly my idea of romantic!
For the first few years we were dating, I used to become so jealous of the couples I saw on Valentine’s Day. Every rose, chocolate, and public display of affection made me cringe, and decide that being apart from a valentine on this holiday was even worse than not having one at all. Over the years, however, I have developed fun ways to keep the romance, as well as to make the fun. For those of you who may be in a similar situation, I thought I’d share my tips on surviving (and thriving!) during a Valentine’s Day without your significant other.
1. Get together with your girlfriends. I can’t stress this one enough! The best Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had have been when I made a conscious effort to spend time with my best girlfriends. Highlights include a Mexican dinner and a movie in college, a girls’ potluck with other military spouses the year our husbands were deployed, and a homemade dinner and chick flick with my best friend from college, whose fiancé was also out of town that day. The busier life becomes, the harder it is to set up time to catch up with old friends and make new ones, so a Valentine’s Day with other women not only makes the day less depressing, but it creates a special memory you won’t forget.
2. Have a postponed V-Day celebration. Just because he’s gone during the holiday doesn’t mean he’s off the hook! I always decorate the house with at least a valentine’s card and a yummy dessert when my husband returns, to let him know how much I missed him. Because he may just be coming home from the field or a deployment, he most likely won’t have a dozen roses and a card to reciprocate my efforts, but we always plan on taking a date night out within the next week, for our own celebration.
3. Be Realistic. This one is the hardest, but most crucial, point I want to make. I fall victim to it every year: be realistic about your significant others’ availability to order flowers, send you chocolates, or write you a letter when you are apart. Depending on his whereabouts and circumstance, this may be possible, but don’t expect two dozen roses if he’s in the middle of the sandbox, with no internet service! That being said, all women love romance, and rather than silently wish for it, there’s nothing wrong with being proactive and asking for it! The best Valentine’s Day gift I ever received was a three-page, handwritten, old-fashioned love letter sent from Afghanistan. It was incredibly heartfelt, but had also been sent after a special request for a real letter. A little nudge never hurt anyone!
4. Remember the meaning of the holiday. Perhaps my own situation has made me like this, but I’m a true believer in celebrating love enough on the non-holidays so that there’s not so much pressure during the actual holiday. Set regular date nights – even if they are only once a month – for you and your significant other, so you can get away and remember why you are together in the first place. And you can laugh at all those who need Valentine’s Day to show their love for each other!