Don’t Spell It, Feel It


Piglet: “How do you spell love?”
Pooh: “You don’t spell it. You feel it?”

A.A. Milne


It’s Valentine’s Day again. As a married person, it has never been my favorite. What a high-pressure set of traditions we have cornered ourselves into for this holiday. Actually, I can’t name many couples in which BOTH partners can honestly say they love Valentine’s Day. Some of my friends have partners who are just not gift-givers and it makes them feel unappreciated. Some of my friends have partners who are extravagant gift givers, and rather than feeling appreciated, they feel like that money spent was excessive. Almost all of us have either let go of the idea of Valentine’s Day, (in some cases after many frustrations), or we struggle with stress – maybe over the idea of picking a gift, or braving the restaurant crowds, or spending an hour in the card aisle, or maybe even pretending to like a gift or card, (or pretending to not be disappointed when there isn’t one).

This year, a friend introduced me to Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages and BOOM it was like one of those cartoon lightbulb moments for my husband, Evan, and I. In a nutshell, he says everyone receives love in slightly different ways. We tend to try to give love in the way we would receive it. So if, for example, I’m a gift-giver, I’m probably the one putting a lot of thought and maybe money into a classic Valentines gift, but maybe our partner is NOT a gift-giver, so they not only disappoint us with their non-gift but they don’t fully appreciate or even understand the discrepancy. There is a free quiz on his website. Do it, people. It’s amazing to be given a peek into how your partner needs you to show them love. To realize that your particular partner would value, say, doing the laundry for her 10 times more than a box of chocolates, or inversely, maybe realizing that she’s the type of person who needs that box of chocolates to feel seen and cherished.

So, that’s the thing about Valentine’s Day, isn’t it? There is not a one-size-fits-all recipe for how to show love. Like Winnie the Pooh says: you don’t spell it, you feel it.

This whole year Evan and I are on a mission to create adventure together. We realized that with three little kids and life coming at you like a whirlwind, you have to be intentional about your partnership, about your friendship. A few months ago we came up with a plan to do one date per month where one or both of us had never done that thing. We’ve tried strange food, raced go karts, gone to concerts and tried rock climbing. We’ve laughed and lived more than we have in so long.

Life is so short. Don’t wait for the kids to be older, or for your job to settle down, or for you to have a little more savings. Get the babysitter. Try the food. Do the thing. Find the adventure that works for the two of you. Go turn your Valentine’s Day upside down. Don’t spell it. Feel it.

To Evan: Thank you for being my co-pilot on this crazy ride. You are my adventure; my safe place; my Home. I love you to distraction. Happy Valentine’s Day. Here’s to another year of firsts.

Erin Hein lives in Kingwood, TX with her husband, Evan, and her children, Jack(6), Caroline (4) and Ian (2). She is the daughter of John and Anne Darst of Darst Funeral Home. The Darst family is proud to serve our community through affordable, meaningful services. You can reach us at 281-312-5656.