happy valentine's day + what does love mean to you: caroline style

happy valentine's day lovers! M's always been the romantic in this relationship. so, when i woke up this morning i knew there would be some homemade husband valentine gift waiting for me. & sure enough there was -- an "I LOVE YOU" sign made out of sticky notes on our sliding doors. daw. & all i got him was a pair of shaved legs.

i have a special treat for all of you. meet caroline. for those who don't know her & clayton, prepare to be swept off your feet. i've been an avid follower/reader/student for a while & there's probably nobody better than caroline herself to talk to you about love on this specific holiday. you'll immediately understand why i asked her to be a part of this month's love series. she's such doll. enjoy!

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Happy Valentines Day!! My name is Caroline & I blog over at jcaro.com. This past May I married my husband Clayton. He's my absolute favorite person on this earth, & through our time of dating & now 8 months marriage I've come to know love in a deeper way than I ever knew possible.
I will go on a “Valentine’s Day Date” with Clayton. If you spend any time on my blog, you know he's my best friend & I treasure him more than anything here on this earth. He sees my ups; he sees my downs & loves me all the more. I laugh the hardest when I'm with him; I feel the safest with him, and I probably make fun of him more than anyone else. it's mutual.
When it comes to sappy, I am the queen. I love cheesy romantic gestures. I love Clayton's notes, surprises, & flowers. I treasure the hours spent helping my brother make a Valentine’s Word Search for his first girlfriend. I loved secret admirers and quirky gift exchanges. I love holidays, I love flowers just like every girl, and I love love.

But, the problem with Valentine’s Day is far too many people leave the day feeling unloved—both those in relationships and those who are single.

It’s not the day’s fault. We should celebrate the one we’ve committed our lives to and the one we're going to spend forever with. We should set time aside for the warm, sentimental moments that make our heart race. We need to celebrate our partner because in the next week they are probably going to drive us up the wall, lead us to tears, or make us question our own sanity as we stomp out of the room. But, we don’t dwell on the latter reality. It is the warm, sappy moments that we—especially young women—envision and crave. We picture candle lit dinners, petals on the floor, classical music mysteriously coming out of the walls {or, whatever other cliché picture comes to mind when you think of a romantic Valentine’s Day}.

The problem is these expectations are unattainable.

Clayton is the sweetest. He still makes my heart jump sometimes; I want to spend any free time with him. He's selfless & makes me want to love the Lord more. & he serves me so well {it's midnight & he just spent the last hour revamping my resume for me, that's love!} even though he's all those things, we don't live in a scripted Hollywood romantic comedy. The expectations from culture simply aren't attainable {nor should they be the goal} when we are two very human people without makeup artists, scripts with the cutest of lines, & a soundtrack to go with our lives. Love might have flowers & chocolate, but true love really is...
  • something beyond feeling; it's commitment that says whether I like you or not today, I love you. I choose you over & over & over again
  • it's swallowing a good comeback because you realize that unity is better than winning
  • it's learning to communicate without holding up defenses
  • it's hearing criticism and realizing it comes from a place of edification
  • it's about... it not being about you.
... true love is work. I cried at every birthday party all through elementary school. My tears came with such clockwork that my mom applauded me the first year I didn’t cry. I would wait so long for my party and the anticipation would build for the best night of the year to celebrate ME. When it came and didn’t live up to the Mary-Kate and Ashley hype in my mind, I cried. I think that’s a bit like Valentine’s Day. For some who are single, Valentine’s Day has evolved into a focus on what is missing for idealized, romantic moments. For those in relationships, the expectation for those same idealized, romantic moments remains unmet... because we don’t live in a movie.

These expectations don’t lead to love. They inevitably lead to being let down.

I challenge you to align your expectations with reality and remember what Valentine's Day is really about. Valentine’s Day is an excuse to buy chocolate for yourself and friends. It’s a reminder to love and cherish those around you. It's a reminder for me to convey the love I already have welling up within me for Clayton. It is not a reminder you are single. It is not a reminder that your spouse isn’t romantic. It’s not a reminder you don’t have much money or that you have to work too much. It’s a happy and simple thing. It’s a random Thursday with chocolate & a reason to show love yourself. Let anything beyond surprise you—not be the expectation.

Share some love instead of calculating what's coming your way. I guarantee that's the purest form of love. Pure, selfless love.

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i told you, she's fabulous, right? & together, she & clayton are a great team. 
you can find her here:  blog// twitter// instagram 

happy valentine's day! go express some love!
ps -- happy birthday to our teenager, maggie. 13 is a milestone! 

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