Valentine’s Day:: Marking the Evolution of a Marriage

After several exhaustive hours of bath time, story time, and the inevitable “five more minutes” negotiations that accompany getting two rambunctious little boys into bed, my husband and I dragged our weary bodies downstairs and collapsed side by side on the couch. I wanted nothing more than to turn on some mindless TV show for the next hour before crawling into bed and drifting off to dreamland where the coffee is always hot and bubble baths never interrupted. Instead, my husband turned to me and threw a live grenade — 

“Hey, what do you want to do for Valentine’s Day this year?”

A seemingly simple question to his mind, but it catapulted me down an emotional memory lane that highlighted just how different our lives had become from the you, carefree kids we once were. Funny how a holiday can do that, huh?

The Evolution of Valentines Day

The Evolution of a Marriage

Our first Valentine’s Day, a mere seven years ago {though it feels more like seventy}, remains one of my favorite memories in romantic history together. It happened to fall the same week as our two month dating anniversary, so we made it a two part-er. Night one involved dressing up for an uber romantic dinner at McCormick and Schmick’s, full of decadent food and one of the best creme brûlées I’ve ever tasted. And the following night he cooked me dinner and we exchanged gifts, which, hilariously, both ended up being nerf guns. We had a nerf war around his apartment because, well, that’s just how we romance.

The following year very nearly topped our first. We were happily engaged and, knowing the stress of an upcoming wedding, my adoring fiancee swept me away for a surprise stay at a fancy hotel. Room service, movies in bed, silly and sentimental gift exchanges — it was the perfect combination of sexy, relaxing and romantic. And yes ladies, rest assured, I’m aware just how lucky I am to have landed such an amazing guy {and I remind myself such when he occasionally forgets take out the trash or absentmindedly responds to a question while playing a game on his phone}. 

Things looked a little different the following year. Only a month prior my new husband and I had learned we were expecting our first child. Still in the first trimester, I was tired and fighting some nausea, but still anxious to celebrate. After all, this was our last Valentine’s Day as a party of two, and we wanted to bask in joy at being {relative} newlyweds and expectant parents. He made reservations at MxCormick and Schmick’s so we could relive our first Valentine’s Day, only this time we took the dessert to go since I was fairly exhausted, and ended the night cuddled up together watching a movie and eating our creme brûlée in bed. You could say it was romance with a side of comfort, and exactly what the doctor ordered. 

As you might guess with the evolution of a marriage, there was no fancy dinner reservations the following year. We were new parents with a four month old baby who didn’t sleep much, so romance was in short supply. Some of the other moms I’d met in a play group talked about getting babysitters so they could go out with their spouses, but we didn’t have any trusted childcare in place yet, and to be honest, neither of us were ready to leave our infant son yet. So we opted to stay in and order take out from a favorite local restaurant and exchange gifts in between night feedings. It may not have been the most romantic holiday we’d ever spent together, and certainly lacked the panache of room service and upscale restaurants, but we made the most of our time together and I will forever treasure the handmade card he gave me that year with our baby boy’s footprints in the shape of a heart. In the absence of fancy nights out on the town, I’ll take sentiment any day. 

Two years later marked not only the worst Valentine’s Day we’d spent together, but perhaps one of the darkest days since we entered the world of parenthood. Our youngest son was born at the end of January, and I was immediately swallowed up by dark void of postpartum depression and anxiety. I suffered panic attacks and crying jags on a daily basis, and Cupid did nothing to alleviate those symptoms. To make matters infinitely worse, our newborn son had developed a very severe case of thrush {one of the worst our pediatrician had ever seen} and could neither eat nor sleep. He spent hours and hours every night screaming. In a moment of optimism, we ordered a nice meal to be delivered via Grub Hub, but we never got the chance to enjoy it together. Instead my husband and I spent our Valentine’s Day eating in shifts in our darkened kitchen while the other tried to rock and soothe our inconsolable baby to sleep. It’s possible that we got each other gifts, though to be perfectly honest, neither one of us can remember. This was the evolution of a marriage. There was no romance, no passion, no quality time spent side by side; just exhaustion and the and vague hope that tomorrow would be a better day. 

 

I can thankfully say that while the next day might not have shown any improvement, the following Valentines Day certainly did. My husband had Tiff’s Treats cookies delivered for the kids and I to enjoy that day while he was at work {I secretly had some delivered to his office we well}, and knowing my growing interest in photography, built an adorable miniature kissing photo booth so I could stage a photo shoot with our sons. When he got home we all cuddled on the couch together and watched Madagascar’s Valentines Day special on Netflix, giggling like lunatics. 

Though we never consciously made the decision to change gears, our celebration of Cupid’s favorite holiday most certainly evolved over the years. Sure it would be great if we could still jet off for a luxurious stay at a hotel or make dinner reservations without worrying about bedtime routines or toddler separation anxiety, but that’s not our reality as parents. If this year’s Valentine’s Day is less passion and romance and more footprint hearts and love notes made out of doilies, well, that’s not really so bad. And who knows, maybe we’ll be able to sneak out and neck under the stars after we put our kids to bed. 


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