Real Love

real love
Garland lights on wooden rustic background. Valentine's day background with hearts. The concept of love and Valentine's day.

I’m one of those people who overuses the word “love.” In 10 Things I Hate About You (perfect movie from the 90s), Bianca says, “There’s a difference between like and love. Because, I like my Skechers, but I love my Prada backpack.”

I say I LOVE possessions all the time. I love my Vitamix, I love my no-pull hair ties, and I love my Prius. Do I though? These things make my life more convenient, but of course they aren’t what sustains me. It’s hard sometimes to remember the difference.

Walt Whitman said, ““I have learned that to be with those I like is enough.” Of course, the father of American poetry has a point. To be surrounded by those you love is even more precious.

I wonder if we tell the people around us that we love them with as much frequency as we declare our love for products. Our words create the environment that our partners, children, and friends live in.

In a society where love can become trivialized, I think there are a few points we should all keep in mind regarding real love this season.

1. Love for children is unconditional. We should be sure that our children know we don’t love them in return for the things they do, or the goals they accomplish. The world is full of competition, but children don’t have to win our love like a prize.

2. Experiences help bind couples in love. A marriage or relationship is a full partnership; it isn’t just a business partnership of two people running a household. We need to make conscious time to put down our phones and DO something fun together without kids. Romantic time alone is important.

3. What we do today builds memories for tomorrow. What do you want your children to remember about their childhood? Memories are the best gift we can give. I’m going to put a bunch of paper hearts on my son’s door for Valentine’s Day. Each heart will say one thing I love about him. I hope that this is something he will look back on fondly.

4. Love is different for every person. What works for one child might not work for another. Try to show love for each member of your family in a way that will connect with them on their terms.

5. Anyone who is loved is lucky. It’s easy to forget in the day-to-today business of life how overwhelmingly important our ties to each other are. Find some way to remind yourself. Set an alarm each evening, and then take time to have real communication with a loved one. Write an old-fashioned love letter. Just leave yourself a post-it on the car visor that says, “You are loved.” It is worth keeping in mind!