Valentine's Survival Guide
Only a few short weeks after my ex-husband initially left, Hallmark’s favorite love holiday greeted me in full force. The timing of this felt like pounds of salt being poured on my broken, wounded heart. As if losing my husband to the other woman wasn’t enough, I was now reminded that she would also be his valentine. This very notion still gives me a stomach ache if I think about it for long enough. Not spending this day with my husband was a piercing reminder of how much pain I was in. There’s nothing worse than a man who’s already accounted for in the arms of another, especially on days marked by love and romance.
This day should have been excruciating. And believe me, it was no walk in the park. However, the body of Christ showed up. Family and friends decided to host a dinner all together and save the coupley outings for another time. Halfway through the gathering, my sister-in-law (who has the heart of a saint) handed me a basket full of wine, chocolate, spa gift certificates, and handwritten cards of encouragement. These cards were not only from people who knew me, but from people I had never met. Each one expressing they were praying for me and my marriage. Thinking back to this moment makes me weepy. Strangers and loved ones alike praying for my heart, my marriage, and the reunion of my family. Couples sacrificing a date with their spouse so I wasn’t alone. There I stood, immersed in the body of Christ. I could hardly believe the compassion and generosity.
Psalm 34:18 tells us, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” I clung to these verses. Accepting these promises did comfort me, but tangibly seeing God’s closeness through the support of my friends and family was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It felt different than a simple act of kindness. This community of Christ was near to me, holding my broken heart. If you are further along in the process of grieving your valentine, I encourage you to find a broken heart to comfort. The only ones who truly know the pain are those who have gone through it. James 1:27 says “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” I believe that women who have been left by their husbands are modern day widows. We are called to visit, comfort, and help them through their grieving. Find a way to create some cheer for their broken heart. Surprise someone with flowers, send them a card, take them out for coffee, offer to babysit their kids … Do something to make these women feel appreciated and loved.
If you are that broken heart, I am sorry. There’s nothing worse than feeling like not only is your life in pieces but your heart and soul are as well. Your pain is real and consuming, but here are some tips to get through this day of love.
- Stay off Social Media. Knowing what all of your friends’ boyfriends/finances/husbands are doing to make their partner’s Valentine’s Day romantic perfection will not help the state of your heart. Comparison is the thief of joy. When your joy is low and your heart is hurting, comparison will destroy you.
- Keep it Kid Focused. If you have littles, start the day with heart pancakes and strawberry milk for breakfast. Line up crafts galore. Make love bugs and handmade cards. Break out the heart aprons and bake some festive cookies. Make a special dinner. Pick a movie and let your kids stay up late with you. Cuddle up and hold those tiny hands.
- Rally Your Single Friends. If you don’t have kids or if you do and would rather go this route ... Plan a spa day or day trip with single girlfriends. Have a night in with fun cocktails and a delicious dinner (takeout counts). Line up the romantic comedies and cheers to the love of good (single) friends.
- Treat. Yo. Self.I must warn you of this slippery slope before I encourage your next big purchase. During the course or my separation and divorce my home went through a top to bottom makeover. New paint, new furniture, new decor. Every holiday (or weekday, at that) warranted a new item. Be careful with this one, but on Valentine’s Day, please buy yourself some sort of pick-me-up. It will make for some temporary happiness, which is sometimes the best we can do.
- Solo Retreat. It’s often difficult to discern the future when you’re mid-separation/divorce. There are so many unknowns and sometimes you really don’t know if you’re doing the right thing by proceeding with the divorce. Perhaps this Valentine’s Day you can spend the day at a retreat center or a mission. Go to mass, talk to a priest, spend the day in prayer, listen for God, read and meditate on scripture. Spending time alone to spiritually reflect on what to do now or simply fixating on God’s love for you is a peaceful way to spend this holiday.
Hopefully one of my suggestions resonated with you and will be of help. If you are on the healing end, I encourage you to be the body of Christ to someone who needs love. We are His hands and feet, let’s do what we can to mend the sadness of heartache. My Valentine’s prayers will be for all of the Her Soul Repair community. Whether you are freshly separated, just trying to survive your first Valentine’s Day alone or your heart is healing, but you’re still on your own or you’re discerning what a new love looks like on this day, I am praying for you. You will get through this and your heart will be whole again.