"Create space for the people you value, and the first person you should value is yourself."
If you’ve noticed a not-so subtle increase in jewelry commercials and the colors red and pink in stores, then you also know that Valentine’s Day is around the corner. As a kid I looked forward to candy and having school time interrupted with sharing cards and sweet treats. When I was single, I opted to call this day S.A.D. (Singles Awareness Day) and seeing all the “love” on social media certainly wasn’t helpful. Now, Stephen and I will have been married for almost ten years and I’d like to think that we’re older and wiser. We don’t focus on getting each other the perfect gifts or planning an expensive night out. We’ve become much more practical these days and are focusing on what we actually want, which is quality time. We’re also focusing on taking care of our mental and physical health and encouraging our loved ones to do the same. Of course, old habits die hard, so I’ll still be looking for a sweet treat.
Whether you’re in a romantic relationship or not, quality time with yourself and the people you love is important. Even if your love language is gift giving or acts of service, you can’t have a successful relationship without time spent listening, learning and nurturing your bond. How else will you know what the people around you actually want and need? And how else will you know yourself if you’re not spending adequate time alone to reflect and care for your needs?
As with any practice, this will look differently for everyone. You decide if you need to go out or stay in, a group activity or a solo date; maybe it’s a balance of all of those. Be intentional about how you spend time with yourself and others. Create a plan or schedule but leave room for spontaneity. Consider your budget and your boundaries, and if you’re planning with others ask for their input as well. We need to learn how to be transparent in relationships, instead of just going with the flow. This means letting your partner know if you want date nights to look differently, even if you think they might feel disappointed. Or telling a friend you need to stay in rather than going out so that you can rest.
Human beings have an instinct to connect, to feel love and to belong. In this digital age, we can fool ourselves into believing we’re more connected than ever. But is it a quality connection or could we lose signal at any moment? We can easily get lost in busyness if we’re not mindful about where we’re spending our time and energy. Create space for the people you value, and the first person you should value is yourself. Spend your time wisely, and as always, lead with love.