PSA: Valentine’s Day is almost here! While it’s true that you don’t need an occasion to show to show you care celebrating Valentine’s Day is a good excuse for a romantic gesture. You may be making plans to help your sweetie feel extra special but, how can you be sure that you’re showing affection in the way that means the most to your mate?
What comes to mind when you hear the word? Is it canoodling in the candle light? A kid-free five-course meal? Long walks on the beach? Champagne and bubble baths? All the mushy clichés of Valentine’s Day?
Though these things are undoubtedly delightful, in marriage love goes deeper than roses and chocolate. When you build and share a life together it is less often ideal than it is real and love is found in the ordinary days and simple moments.
Love is found in small gestures. It’s holding hands in church, arms wrapping around me from behind when I’m busy in the kitchen, a knowing smile across the room, and meeting for lunch amidst a busy day.
Love is found in trust. Never fearing that the hand I hold would strike me in anger or reach out to another for affection, but instead guide me in love, brush away my tears, and gently cradle our newborn’s fuzzy heads.
Love is found in our weakness. It’s talking me down when I panic, convincing him we’ll make it through when finances get tight, him reassuring me if I’m down, and me rubbing his back after a hard day’s work.
Love is found in the trenches of parenthood. It’s tag-teaming dirty diapers, picking up where one left off during an exasperating lecture, throwing our hands up and laughing (instead of losing it) when the kids won’t listen, the dog is barking and the house is a mess.
Love is found in our frustration. It’s kissing each other good night even if we had a bad day, choosing to speak calmly when we might want to shout, serving each other when we’d rather not, and talking it out when we’d rather walk away.
Love is found in our friendship. It’s poking fun at each others small quirks, laughing until our sides ache, saving stories from the day to tell each other later, and feeling the years dissolve when the connection sparks like its still new.
Love is found in our comfort. It’s telling me I’m beautiful in my sweatpants and bun, cuddling in front of our favorite TV show, unashamedly sharing junk food and limbs draped lazily over one another in slumber.
Love is found in our memories. It’s the old inside jokes that still crack us up, the same Christmas ornaments on the tree each year, the milestones we’ve reached together, and the many obstacles we’ve overcome.
Love is found in our futures. It’s the way he looks at our children, when he lets me know that they look up to me, knowing that through all of life’s changes our devotion will remain, and knowing that no matter how old I get he’ll always be two years older!
True love’s path ouside of the pages of a romance novel usually isn’t packed full of breath taking moments and grand gestures but rather punctuated by them. Proposals, weddings, babies, and anniversaries; the rarity is what makes them so special. Yet, the routine can still hold such beauty to enjoy so long as we don’t overlook it!
So, if your Valentine’s Day looks less like a room full of flowers and balloons and more like grabbing takeout so no one has to cook, don’t be upset! Smile at each other between bites and play footsie in your fuzzy socks. Seriously, who needs a 3ft teddy bear anyway? Your ordinary love is extraordinary simply because it is yours!
It’s supposed to be the happiest time of your life but, lets be real, anyone who has planned or is in the process of planning a wedding knows that it can have it’s fair share of stress! In my case I was on a budget and wanted as much planned as possible before the day was close! I was referred to a planning website to help me since I didn’t even know where to start. I found a lot of very helpful tools on the site to help me get organized: lists, timelines, and details that I totally would have forgotten, if I even thought of them in the first place! There were a lot of “to-do” items on the list, some were logical like, make a guest list, book a venue, find a photographer. Then there were other, less helpful suggestions..
10 months from the wedding date was apparently right on schedule for me to start transforming myself into the ultimate picture-perfect bride. I was to start a diet and exercise routine, implement a rigorous skin care routine including pricey monthly facials, keep up with my mani-pedis, deep conditioning, and hair cuts, but most of all (again) reduce my size! The dress sizes at the bridal salon are much different than your every day pant size, and God forbid you have back fat in that strapless!
The bridal magazines depicted nothing but statuesque, waifish brides. Facebook was advertising bridal boot camps and total body make overs.. And don’t even get me started on Instagram! The internet was filled with countless articles on how to properly pose for pictures, tone your flabby arms, get rid of cellulite in time for your honeymoon, and endless amounts of other beauty advice and expensive must-have products meant to make you “better” for the big day!
Unfortunately, the pressure to be perfect didn’t stop there. It also came from more unlikely sources… The neurosis of some of the women that were to surround me that day made me feel like I should be twice as neurotic about my own looks! I was the BRIDE after all! I like to think that I eat relatively healthily on a regular basis but when I would get a greek yogurt for breakfast or a salad for lunch at work the cashier would comment “Oh trying to fit into that dress huh?”, and my well meaning friends, family, and coworkers would give plenty of unsolicited low cal recipes and workout advice.
I wish I could have said that I was strong and didn’t let all of this affect me but that wouldn’t be the truth. No one seemed to pressure my husband about his appearance so maybe there really was something wrong with me! I compared my curvy 5 ft 1 in frame to the tall, thin models and each comment and suggestion made my insecurity grow into a giant. I didn’t understand why everyone was so focused on my appearance instead of just being happy for me! Of course I wanted to feel beautiful and confident on our wedding day but the truth was that my husband already saw me as beautiful. He knew who I was and liked it enough to propose so why should I change myself completely to marry him?
My wedding was honestly the happiest day of my life! My photographer said that he barely got any pictures of me not smiling. He was awesome and gave me all of the pictures taken that day to choose from. This included the good, bad unedited, and awkward. When I got the pictures back, all I could see was how different I looked compared to the #bridegoals I was apparently expected to resemble. I was so elated and having such a good time living in the moment that all of the modeling tips I read up on for months flew right out of my head. I forgot to stretch my neck, stick out my jaw, and make my selfie face in most of the photos.
All I could see was my flaws, my ‘double chin’ as I laughed out loud, my round face as I smiled genuinely, my large arm as it squished into my side, my non-existent neck as I scrunched up my shoulders in nervousness or delight. Ridiculous I know.. but I let it get to me and I wept over my hideousness. Damn it they were all right! I was so mad at myself! I was Shrek in a dress! Maybe I should have listened, lost another 25 lbs, got those facials….corseted, starved, bleached my hair, got a dark spray tan, become someone I wasn’t. Someone sexier, someone skinnier, someone better!
But then I looked at the pictures again and I saw something else..my genuine glee, my friends and family celebrating, my husband looking so proud, my daughter officially getting the dad she had always deserved, then I felt silly..
Look at my husband, does it look like he was wondering what size my gown was or how much I weighed in at that morning? NO WAY! He was marrying ME and that made him happy and he loves me today more than ever. Through pregnancy, getting into shape after baby, now my weight is going back up with another baby on the way. The truth is we will all change, our looks will not stay the same forever, we will all grow older. Your husband is marrying YOU! And I promise that is who he would want to see on his wedding day, a version of you that he knows, that has always been more than enough for him.
So if you are planning your wedding, do what you must to feel beautiful on your day but, don’t let the pressure of the world get to you. Be someone you and your family can recognize when you look back on your photos in 10, 15, 20 years. Let the focus be on celebrating you as you are, the honest and true love you and your future husband share, and remember that a wedding is more than just one day and what comes after is far more important; the beginning of a lifelong marriage journey and commitment for better or worse! Enjoy the superficial aspects like dresses, decor, wine, food and gifts but don’t let it consume you and take away your joy. He is marrying YOU, and you are absolutely beautiful just as you are!
Can you relate to these pressures of being a bride? Why do you think there isn’t as much pressure for grooms to look a certain way when walking down the aisle? Comment below!