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Love will cool if Cupid’s arrow finds its mark but once a year

1128653_valentines_3by Karen Kreps

After New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day was the holiday I most dreaded when I was single. For months in advance I’d worry about whether I’d have a date for the occasion. If I were lucky enough to have one, I’d expect so much from my boyfriend de jour that he’d invariably disappoint me with his reticence about romance. If I didn’t have a date, I usually lacked the emotional intelligence to show my lonely face in public. On New Year’s Eve, everyone is entitled to celebrate the changing of the calendar year, but I felt like if you didn’t have someone to be with on Valentine’s Day, you’re chopped liver.

Thank God, that is behind me now. I’ve celebrated ten Valentine’s Day with my Mr. Right and the holiday no longer provokes a personal crisis. It’s simply an excuse for us to go a little gaga over our relationship and to express our love and lust. Still, if we go out for a special dinner, I sense our membership in an elite club of couples who flaunt red apparel in the finest restaurants in town.

Call it a Hallmark holiday, if you wish, but the day devoted to romantic love dates back much farther than the greeting card industry. Valentine’s Day probably originated from the ancient belief that birds, particularly lovebirds, began to mate on February 14. That was when the Feast of Lupercal was celebrated in honor of the Roman god of fertility. The same day also was once a Catholic feast day honoring a saint, a priest named Valentine, who, according to one of many legends surrounding the day, was beheaded for continuing to marry young couples after Roman Emperor Claudius II banned weddings. Apparently Claudius thought that married soldiers weren’t as reliable as single soldiers. Through the centuries the various legends merged and Saint Valentine’s Day became a day dedicated to lovers, a time to exchange sentimental cards and give flowers and chocolate as symbols of never-ending adoration.
So who needs romantic rituals? We all do, occasionally. Romantic rituals rekindle the sparks that originally ignited passion between lovers. They force us to pause in our mundane activities and to think about and express what our partners really mean to our lives.

The first few years my husband and I were together, a pre-Valentine’s Day trip to Victoria’s Secret was a no-brainer for my husband. I faced the bigger challenge of finding sexy jockey shorts in the men’s departments of stores like Dillard’s. I came home once to find a trail of paper hearts, stars and confetti leading upstairs to our bedroom. There I found gift wrapped boxes festooned with red ribbons. Next came the fashion show. We would model our silky soft intimate apparel. It was never very long before our new clothes wound up on the floor.

As the Valentine’s piled up, we looked for other rituals that meant more to us. We always exchange cards in which we write personal messages. Sometimes I get him to join me and watch the video of our wedding.

I surveyed a number of Austinites who told me about some of the special, romantic activities they have shared with their true love. They include: sharing a bubble bath with aromatic salts, sensual foot massage, and head massage; going together for massages from students in one of the local massage schools; surprising your special someone with a bouquet of flowers when least expected; watching the great violet crown of an Austin sunset; dirty dancing at the Broken Spoke; writing a love note; and saying how much your lover means to you.

These suggestions may seem trite, but whispering sweet nothings can result in significant rewards. Being romanced raises one’s self-esteem. It stimulates sexual desire. Desire leads to fulfillment.

Remember the axiom, “Use it or lose it?” If you, as a couple, don’t make time or mental space for expressions of love, you may become less able to express yourselves with each other in general.

You may begin to see your partner as a roommate, a parent, or a housekeeper. Do you go to bed at the same time as your mate? Do you take one another for granted?

Romantic rituals remind us of the private, soft connection we have with someone. If being romantic doesn’t come naturally, practice a little. You’ll be surprised how easy it is, and how much fun. Send a message that you find your mate special and worth spoiling. Affection breeds attachment. Attachment leads to commitment. Commitment offers security. That’s something we all could use a whole lot of in this changing world.

It’s not important to do something special just because it’s February 14. But it is important for you to do something special, sometime, and frequently.

Our romantic rituals aren’t limited to annual holidays. My sweetie and I set aside Sunday nights for giving each other massage. And rarely is there a day when we come or go without a greeting kiss or a kiss good-bye.

Romance doesn’t have to fade after its bright beginnings. As you mature with someone, you come to mean so much more to each other, and you find new, more personal ways to express your feelings. With hope, all romantic relationships will develop into mature love, but the sense of attraction, the racing pulse, and the depth of affection isn’t ever really absent in a good relationship.

Whenever Cupid’s arrow strikes, enjoy it!