Some people just dislike Valentine’s Day and wish it wasn’t a thing. Many of those people are military loved ones who are spending the holiday apart from their service member.
There are a million reasons for military loved ones to dislike Valentine’s Day. Often, this holiday is simply a reminder that we are separated from the ones we love. In the 19 years that I have dated or been married to my military man, I know we have spent more Valentine’s Days apart than we have spent together. In fact, one year he even deployed on Valentines Day. Talk about bad timing! So it is safe to say that I have mixed feelings about this holiday celebrating love.
Many military spouses don’t make a big deal about Valentine’s Day. Sure, if you have a chance, celebrate with your special someone. But if the military has separated you because of deployment, training, classes, or duty, then setting high expectations will only leave you disappointed.
If all the posts about love in the air are starting to get to you, here’s what you can do about it.
The 3 reasons people dislike Valentine’s Day (and how to avoid them!):
1. Problem: Unrealistic expectations. The best way to end up in tears on a holiday is to build up expectations in your head. Sad to say, I have done this way too many times. Even though I don’t say anything to my spouse, I somehow expect that he will magically do something out of the ordinary. But let’s be real, he is not a mind reader. A few times when he was deployed, he was able to send flowers or a wine gift basket, which was certainly appreciated! But other times, he hasn’t had access to a phone or a computer around Valentine’s Day. So the holiday simply passes without any contact, and of course that upsets me.
How to avoid it: If there is a chance you will be apart on Valentine’s Day, try to plan ahead. Talk to your spouse about realistic ways to communicate or celebrate the holiday. Maybe, you go on a date a few weeks ahead of time. Maybe, you send them a care package or they send you a card. And remember, there’s always next year. Try not to make a big deal about missing one holiday when you will have the rest of your lives to celebrate other times.
2. Problem: Getting jealous of other couples. This is so hard to fight during deployment or long-distance separation. Sometimes, seeing other people happy around you just reminds you how lonely you are and how much you miss your service member. In some cases, military spouses are angered just from seeing pictures of flowers and gifts on other people’s Facebook pages.
How to avoid it: First, acknowledge the feelings when you are upset or jealous of someone. Trying to hide it or ignore it will only make it worse. Second, try to be happy for others by reminding yourself that you have a relationship just as wonderful as theirs. Learn about your Love Language so you and your service member can still fulfill each other’s needs when apart. Also, it helps to get out of the funk by teaming up with friends or other military spouses who are alone. Instead of staying in binge-watching Netflix and eating ice cream, make some plans with your girlfriends to have a night out or go somewhere new. Having something to look forward to can move you past your own loneliness or jealousy.
“Team up with friends or other military spouses so you won’t celebrate a holiday alone.” ~The Seasoned Spouse
3. Problem: Trying to celebrate two things at once. I recently made this mistake on my birthday. This year, my husband was home for my birthday. Next year, I know that he won’t be. So I started to expect that this year would be a great celebration and a chance to make up for his absence next year. My big plans were foiled when my child got sick and I ended up spending most of my birthday at the base hospital. Not fun! And not fair! Right? Then I ended up crying for two years worth of spoiled birthdays. Sometimes, even when our spouse is around, we want one celebration to make up for others they have missed. This could work if you are saving up for a big date or a special event. But often, it’s a recipe for disaster.
How to Avoid it: Don’t pin all your hopes on Valentine’s Day or on any other holiday. Nothing can really ever make up for the time we miss with our spouses. And as military spouses, we know all too well the frustration and disappointment of plans changing. Try to stay flexible and not take it personally if something interferes with your plans. Remember the importance behind any holiday-it’s about celebrating the ones you love and appreciating them for being part of your life.
What are your thoughts about Valentine’s Day? How do you celebrate when your military spouse is away?
If you are facing a deployment this year, you will love our free Facebook group for deployment support!