Valentine's Day After Divorce

14 February 2012

picture of rose for Valentine’s Day Valentine's Day means a lot of things to a lot of people. Whether you are divorcing or already through the process, this day can feel like a burden more than anything else. We are told that we need someone who loves us on this day, but let's look at it from a different perspective. Maybe this day can be shifted to loving ourselves before worrying about loving someone else.

You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore

In this new chapter of your life, it’s okay to buy yourself flowers. Focusing on self-care can help you overcome Valentine’s Day loneliness. "You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore" — The Theme Song of those Separated and Divorced on Valentine's Day. Many of us may remember Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand singing this song in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I remembered thinking then how sad it was when people get nostalgic about the way things were between their partner or spouse, and what it is now that they have parted. As Valentine’s Day approaches, this song comes to mind again for people who are separated or divorced, and who will not be receiving flowers anymore.

You Are Not Alone

With almost 50% of marriages ending in divorce in North America, that’s a lot of people. This statistic does not even include those who are separated and have not filed for divorce, or common-law couples who are now separated. That means many are dealing with Valentine's Day and divorce.

There will be many dreading this Valentine’s Day. It’s not only that they will be constantly reminded of what used to be, but it also emphasizes a feeling of lacking. I don’t just mean a lack of flowers, chocolates, intimacy or singing of love songs. I mean a lack of love and feeling loved. It is bad enough having to deal with the emotional stress of separation and divorce without it being shoved in your face.

Does that mean those who are happy and in love should not celebrate that love because someone else may feel bad? Of course not. It means that those that are not in love shouldn’t have to hide or stand on the sidelines.

Handling Valentine’s Day and Divorce

There is a major turning point in this theme song by Diamond and Streisand:

“But used-to-bes don’t count anymore They just lay on the floor Till we sweep them away”

That’s the cue — yesterday does not count anymore, so get that broom out.

Valentine’s Day is about love. Period. That love can include your friends, your family, your children and YOU. One of the biggest things separated and divorced people need to do is to learn to love themselves again. Maybe they will need to learn to love themselves for the first time in their lives if they were co-dependent.

There is a huge difference between selfish love and loving yourself. Selfish love may have got you where you are today — thinking about what you want, the way you wanted to do it and getting things in your life with no or little regard for the feelings of your spouse or partner. 

Loving yourself is about learning who you are inside and the kind of person you want to be and the kind of life you may be wanting now because what you pursued before did not work out. It is about learning to love the real you and saying that I am worth loving. When you can love yourself, that is when another person will also be able to love you again.

Moving Past the Pain of Valentine's Day and Divorce

First, let’s start with your kids. Spending time with your kids shows love. You can help them get their Valentine’s ready for classmates at school. As well, you can make a handmade one for each of your kids and have them make one for you their siblings and yes, even the other parent. It will show them that love means forgiveness and understanding even if the other person hurt you. Because you know what – you may have hurt your kids during this tough time too. Bake a heart shaped cake and decorate it with 300 chocolate kisses. Or make a giant Valentine’s cookie gram. Kids love that!

Start with You

Then, treat yourself with something that will make you feel good about yourself, will make you laugh, make you smile, or allow you to be yourself. Go buy those flowers or those chocolates or book for yourself. Maybe go to the spa or to the motorcycle show or hockey game. You deserve it.

In addition, love is about giving. Make Valentine's Day about gratitude. Volunteering makes us feel good about ourselves and often we get more back than we give, especially if it comes genuinely from the heart. For instance, volunteering is a great way to get out of the used-to-be’s playing in your head and in your heart. When you can give to those less fortunate than you, it is a wonderful reminder to be grateful for all that you do have in life.

Lastly, don’t choose to be alone. Spend time with a friend or a member of the family. Be with others who are also thinking about those flowers they don’t get any more, not to commiserate, but to celebrate yourself and your self-love. Sharing time with someone is the greatest gift of love you can give or receive from friends and family. For those who feel more venturesome and have had enough healing — get out your dancing shoes and go dancing with some friends and meet new ones.

Moving On After Divorce

Don’t end your song with “You don’t bring me flowers anymore” as Neil and Barbra did. Remember, that is living in the past. Create your new song by living in the present and appreciating who you are now.

Who said you had to wait till February 14? Start today!