The roses, chocolates and oversized teddy bears are all signs that Valentine’s Day is here. And for those of us who have aged out of the “Everyone at school passes out a Valentine to everybody” version—essentially, the “No Child Left Behind” of holidays—Valentine’s Day has become synonymous with celebrating the romance in our lives.
The Root spoke to several people on how we can take the pressure off those 24 hours and celebrate “everyday love” and the recurring moments that make up all the love in our lives, including families, marriage, love of self and platonic friends. Everyday love is expansive and allows us to make room and cherish romantic love, families, friendships and self-love.
For Donna and O’Larry, 2018 will mark the 31st Valentine’s Day they have spent together as husband and wife. For them, although the day is viewed as a “commercial holiday,” O’Larry says, “it’s always a welcomed bonus—an excuse to be excessive and lavish” as they step out of their traditional routines and shower each other with love and affection.
Yet, for the parents of three, it’s the everyday moments that help solidify their marriage. Donna says:
Valentine’s Day is easy, because society dictates exactly how to convey love, whether it be chocolates or dinner, but it’s in the everyday where you have no directions and relationships are failing around you that you have to figure how to love each other, learning about yourself and each other so that you can then truly celebrate and love one another. This learning process never ends.
With a new baby, the transformation that takes place in your relationship happens overnight and forces your everyday love to constantly evolve and accommodate new needs. For new parents Jasmyne and Bobby, their new bundle of joy, Jordyn, became a beautiful addition to the former party of two.
Now a new “everyday love” is shown as Bobby comes home from work and takes charge to relieve Mom, or Jasmyne makes sure Bobby has time to make it to the gym. Bobby says,“Our love for each other formed a bond that can’t be broken, even if it’s a crying baby or poopy-diaper baby; we form a team and take care of what needs to be done.”
Parenthood has only intensified their feelings for each other. “Me seeing him with her makes me love him even more,” Jasmyne says. This Valentine’s Day they’ll be home with the best gift they get to shower love on daily: Jordyn.
What about the everyday love rooted in friendships—you know, the platonic ones?
For Chuniq and her friend Calvin, playground antics in the second grade turned into a friendship that has lasted more than 20 years. The two are quick to point out that there’s never been any “funny business” in their friendship. The now long-distance friendship has blossomed into one in which two people confide in, and encourage, each other throughout life.
For Chuniq the friendship is essential because “I can get sound advice from someone who doesn’t have ulterior motives, and have a listening ear with nonjudgmental support,” she says. On Valentine’s Day, they always send a quick text or call to express how their love and friendship throughout the years is still valued.
With one year of marriage officially in the books, Alicia and Jazmyne are still learning the ropes of marriage, but if there’s one thing they’ve mastered, it’s how to keep love present daily. “In the beginning, I was intentional about discovering my love language and figuring out hers so I could communicate to her in a way that she would receive it,” Alicia says.
Jazmyne, knowing that Alicia responds positively to affection, makes every effort to shower her with affection throughout the day. The two are able to navigate marriage as best friends while still learning how to be individuals. Their everyday love is being aware of each other’s needs and making every effort to fulfill them.
“Everyday is Valentine’s Day when you’re with the right person,” Alicia says.
Another facet of everyday love is self-love and self-care in your everyday life. Chib, a young bachelor in Atlanta, quickly ascended to become one of the top earners in his company. Yet after six years, he found himself on the corporate treadmill and at the point of no return as the 12-hour days began to take a toll.
“I wasn’t getting the spiritual [uplift] I needed, the familial relationships; I was just getting money,” he says. So while living the corporate dream, with the salary and status, he jumped from the top and decided to finally take care of himself. Chib resigned from his job Feb. 1 and is taking off the entire month to reinvent, reinvest and rejuvenate himself before moving on to a path better suited for long-term happiness.
This is the ultimate form of self-love, of being able to walk away from societal expectations and knowing how and when to put yourself first. For him, everyday love is a reminder to take care of himself, to aim to get a full eight hours of sleep a night, to eat more healthfully and become more physically active.
So on this Valentine’s Day, try not to get too overwhelmed by the pressure to perform as society dictates. Celebrate how you please, and take a moment to acknowledge the various ways that love flows in your everyday life. Love can be simple, love can be lavish, love can a personal experience or a shared emotion—just remember to cherish your everyday love.