Marjorie JamesYippee! Valentine’s Day is almost here! Oh, you aren’t jumping up and down with joy? Neither am I, but probably not for the same reason as you if you are separated or divorced. My younger daughter has been divorced for 10 years, and when I asked her what she does for Valentine’s Day, she said, “Wear black to work.” Black? Oh, yes. It is partly because she does not have a husband or even a “significant other” in her life, but her other comment reflects, to some extent, how I feel.

“Valentine’s Day is just a chance for the card shops, gift boutiques, and florists to make money,” she continued. “Oh, and don’t forget the ‘intimate’ dinner out with a whole restaurant of other ‘intimate’ dinners. If I ever get married again, I want cards and flowers all year, not just because someone tells my husband that he will be a real cad if he doesn’t give them to me on February 14.”

Maybe you love Valentine’s Day; more power to you. It is nice to get something special, especially when it represents love. Believe me, if my husband brings me flowers, I will enjoy them, but I like them all year long!

What about the children of divorce or separation? They probably want to give out valentines; children love expressing their love. It is relatively easy to buy or make cards for their classmates, but what do you do or say when they want you to take them to find a special card for your former spouse? Great care needs to be taken here; you don’t want to negatively impact their relationship with the other parent. This is one of those times for enthusiasm because of who the children are to you, not how you feel about your situation. You need to support and encourage their desire to express their love.

It is time to redefine Valentine’s Day in divorce situations, according to Stacy Townes, Collaborative Child Specialist (townescounseling.com). Parents need to help the children define love beyond the romantic. Make a list of people you and the children love – family, friends, neighbors, and even pets. Then work on ways to express that love. A new toy for kitty, a special treat for puppy, heart-shaped cookies baked and decorated for grandparents or neighbors, doing a chore for a family member without being asked could be just “what the doctor ordered.”

I have talked about ministering to the needs of those less fortunate at other holidays. Why not extend that idea to Valentine’s Day? What about you and the children making Valentine’s Day placemats for seniors in assisted living centers? Wouldn’t it be fun to visit children in the hospital? (Get permission first!) Singing familiar songs, kind of like February caroling, would be a treat for children and adults needing encouragement and a smile.

Stacy advised that all adults do something for themselves, with the emphasis on “something adult” in celebration. What about a facial, new hairdo, or dinner with a friend? McDonald’s may be all you can afford, but laughter is the special ingredient. Maybe your favorite candy bar can be your Valentine’s Day “box of chocolates”!

Love is all around us, but we all have to look for it sometimes, especially when the romantic form has gone sour. Maybe another dance in the rain will put you in the mood to find it!

Copyright 2014. Marjorie E. James. All rights reserved.