87324578-number-fourteen-with-a-heart-round-it-gettyimagesMany romantic expectations surround Valentine’s Day. For those contemplating a divorce or In the midst of divorce proceedings, Valentine’s Day can be extra stressful because the pressure to express romantic love to a sweetheart simply can’t be fulfilled in the way society expects, and it is impossible to avoid the Valentine’s Day spirit when out and about. For example, when shopping this time of year, you can’t help but notice the greeting card aisle. The hearts! The glitter! Selling Valentine’s Day cards is nothing new – commercialism has found its way into expressing love through cards for over a century now, with valentines first being mass produced in the 1800s. There has been something made for everyone, since the very beginning: in 1797 The Young Man’s Valentine Writer was published in Britain, and contained romantic poems for gentlemen that couldn’t write their own to impress their Valentine. While there is nothing wrong with buying or receiving a store-bought card or pre-written sentiments (or any other classic Valentine’s Day gift, like roses or chocolates), I personally think it is more meaningful to express your feelings in your own unique words and gestures, spontaneously, throughout the year.  And not just to a significant other – how about those precious kiddos in your life? I think instead of feeling pressure to be in a romantic relationship and consume everything pink/red/glittery on February 14th, Valentine’s Day can serve as a reminder to us that every day is an opportunity for us to creatively express our feelings to anyone we care about – not just a sweetheart.
It’s Valentine’s Day on Friday. This year I’m thinking about the many couples who have lost that loving feeling. Ads everywhere for jewelry, flowers and chocolates must serve as painful reminders of the exciting, early stages of their relationship. Whether still married, in the process of divorce, or recovering from divorce, Valentine’s Day can have special significance. I read an interesting, well-written Huffington Post item recently that pointed out that divorce attorneys see an increase in inquiries during January and February.  With the holidays behind them, New Year’s resolutions often include ending an unsatisfying marriage. Another article reports that divorce filings rise by as much as 40 percent immediately following Valentine’s Day. When a final attempt to rekindle the relationship on the most romantic day of the year fails, beginning the dissolution process often follows. For those who are already separated, divorcing or divorced, the question becomes how to survive Valentine’s Day. Possible activities include doing something special for someone else, taking care of yourself by doing something that makes you feel good, or focusing on your children. Also keep in mind that, for most, it gets easier with time.  
For me, February brings to mind two things: cold weather (especially for us mid-westerners) and Valentine’s Day. If you are a divorced woman, the latter might make you cringe. So how can we get through this month on a positive, upbeat note? With Valentine’s Day on a Friday this year it’s going to be hard to hide from it, so let’s embrace it! Here are some tips to help you survive Valentine’s Day:
  • Gather your single friends for dinner or a ladies night out!
  • Do you have the kids that night? Make the day about them and your love for them! Make a special project, meal, or dessert.
  • Treat yourself to a spa day! If it is not in the budget this month invite a few girlfriends over for at home spa treatments. Enjoy some wine and make it a sleepover!
  • Send yourself flowers or chocolates. It may be materialistic, but purchase something that brings you pleasure. Treat yourself the way you’d like to be treated.
  • Do something active, take a yoga class or go for a run.
Divorce is a transition. Remember that it does not define you and it is in no way a reflection of who you are.