I am not sure if any part of culture impacts my little girls like Valentine’s Day. Well, all that Valentine’s Day represents–from film to TV to songs and cupid. It romanticizes love into solely an emotional (and usually shallow) experience. That leaves skewed views on relationships. These images are false and set our kids up for failure.
I loved Heather’s post this week because I believe my marriage is one of the greatest gifts I can give my girls. I want to talk to them, but I also want to live in such a way that they experience with all their senses that love in marriage is an active, selfless, choice to cherish someone else. I want to implement things because they are good for my man and my marriage. I also want to do them because they will whisper truth about love and marriage to my daughters’ hearts.
I do this in a few ways. First are words of affirmation and appreciation. I make it a point to tell my husband what I value in him. I identify areas I know he has grown in. I reiterate those qualities that draw me to him. I thank him for how he provides and protects our family. I not only do this privately, but also in front of my kids. Kids need the words given to them to practice not just things like manners, but also all sorts of social settings. When we verbalize our appreciation for Daddy, it gives them words to encourage and thank others in their world. It gives them the words they will one day need for their husbands. When I found my first gray hair, I was, as you can imagine, less than thrilled. But my hubby scooped me up, kissed me and in front of my girls told me he loved growing old with me. It certainly isn’t what we are seeing in culture. Long marriages, gray hairs, acts of service declare we are in it for the long haul. This is love.
The second is affection. I know you may have big plans tonight for Valentine’s Day, but don’t let those sweet moments between you two just happen on special days or just in the bedroom. Kids need to see us connecting with our husbands with kisses and hugs and snuggles. Our daughters had never seen family and marriage played out with they came home to us through adoption at ages 2, 3, and 5. We knew they were starting to attach to us and feel safe when they started doing one special “kid” thing. When we would hug or kiss, they stopped merely staring at us like we were crazy. They started to bound over and try to wiggle in between us. They loved seeing that safe affection and wanted to be a part of it. That is not always easy in our jam-packed lives. We need to slow down and connect for us and for them. We take time for each other. Unlike in the movies, everything isn’t about sex. This is love. Watch and see, you may find some great family hugs happening all the time.
Lastly, is community. We purposefully show our girls that we are not starstruck lovers, ignoring everyone else and their opinions for the sake of our love. That’s not real. We need people around us. We need other couples and other women in our life that encourage us on this road. Marriage isn’t always easy. Community helps propel us over those bumps and encourages us to keep going. Knowing you’re not alone and hearing words that challenge us and edifies us on this journey are so vital. Marriage isn’t an island of love. It flourishes best when it has direction and good friends that can help hold you accountable to your vows. This is love.
The last one is dear to my heart. Maybe you are like Lindsey and don’t have community. Take her encouragement to step out and try to connect with someone. By meeting just one mom, she and her husband stepped out and built a community of support around them. We love connecting moms in real life here at SMB. Once a month, mothers and their sweet babies join together in real life at the zoo. You may not know it, but Phoenix has one of the best zoos in the country. The animals are diverse and interesting. We also have weather the beckons us outdoors 8 months of the year. Many of us find a zoo pass well worth the investment, but isn’t necessary to join us on a walk. Not only do we get to connect and build new friendships as moms but are children also get to begin making connections. You might just find new community by joining us.
So this Valentine’s Day, celebrate love–the true, lasting love you want your kids to know and give. Then in a couple of weeks join us at the zoo. Like our Facebook page to stay connected to our real life meetings. You just may find some extra love from a new friend, too.