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February 13, 2014 |

To Those for Whom V-Day Stinks

BY Jen Hatmaker

I’m probably not supposed to reveal this because of the manliness and machismo and tattoos and Harley and whatnot, but I married a gigantic romantic. He is mushy and cry-ish and I love it. He thinks up ways to surprise or thrill me. I mean, he threw me a surprise party for my 27th birthday, a year with absolutely no significance whatsoever. It took me five minutes to stop being confused why all my friends were there.
We’d been dating six weeks. Please note: No one had taught me about eyebrows yet.
And also? I would kill for those earrings right now.
Sidebar: I am a notoriously horrid gift giver. I call as my witness the front-row tickets I bought for Jamie Foxx’s “stand up comedy show” which turned out to be his “concert” (I am also lazy with details) in which we were the only white people in attendance and couldn’t hear for three days. (On the final song at a billion decibels and 36 inches from the speakers, I finally surrendered to White Girl Lameness and plugged my ears with my fingers only to tentatively glance behind me and find every single sister behind me doing the same. SOLIDARITY.) If ever I attempt to defend my side of the marriage equation, Brandon just says “Jamie Foxx” and the argument is dead in the water.

So I am going to be loved on V-Day, and in keeping with our marital rhythm, Brandon will receive such affectionate tokens like my delightful presence and shaved legs.

But I’m thinking through this weird holiday in which love is forced upon us all, and it occurs to me that it is a sorrow to so many. Even though we all know it is cheesy and commercialized and INVENTED, there is a part of every one of us that just wants to be loved on Love Day.

So for those of you planning to avoid V-Day and its declarations and precious pictures and Public Love Fest because you are certain none of it is aimed at you, here goes:

To all the single parents:

No spouse is going to force help your kids make you lovely Valentines, and as for love of the romantic variety? You’ve turned back into a virgin at this point. Well guess what? I see you and the incredible work you do and I honor you. Brandon has been out of town for four days and I’ve considered ending my life. You are a marvel. You are both mom and dad and there is never any relief, and yet here you are: raising beautiful, amazing children. You are doing it. You are a hero.

I give you a Valentine for being brave and strong and faithful to your little family. Don’t imagine that your children will not rise up and called you blessed. You are writing commitment into their stories, and they will never forget it. You are doing the grueling, faithful work of parenting alone, and we applaud you. Standing ovation. I am so proud of you. May the rest of us love you well and be your village and tuck you and your people into our homes and hearts.

To the discouraged single guy and gal:

What narcissist invented this holiday, right? Now, I do not assume every single person wishes they were part of a set. Of course not. Some of the happiest, most satisfied folks I know are single, and I often look at them with their free lives and think: TAKE ME WITH YOU.

But for those of you who are lonely and this day sucks, I see you too. You are amazing. You are independent and brave, and I marvel at the dreams you are chasing, the gifts you are using, the life you are building. I do not know how to turn on our grill, I couldn’t guess our average electric bill within $250, and I have never mowed a yard. Do you understand what a dimwit I am? Because I got married at NINETEEN (you read that right, gentle reader), I failed to develop adult skills that you are stunning at.

I give you a Valentine for being courageous and smart and resourceful. Look at what an amazing human you are! When forever love finds you, and the stats say it will, you will be an exquisite, capable partner who brings so much to the table and enriches your marriage beyond belief. I am proud of you. Your life is already beautiful and doesn’t need a Hallmark card or reservation at PF Chang’s to validate its worth. (And hey, if you decide to go to a movie that starts in 17 minutes on a random Tuesday, YOU JUST CAN. Revel in that please. It takes an act of God to get out of my front door.)

To those who lost their Valentine:

This used to be a happy day for you and now it is a reminder of what you’ve lost. Everyone else’s happiness is a dagger and it seems the world is out to further ruin your shattered heart. Well, I see you, friend. Imagine me sidling up next to you, slipping an arm around your shoulders, acknowledging what was and mourning with you.

For those of you who lost a Valentine because you parted ways, I honor your loss. My gosh, love is so hard and confusing. All the books and systems are crap. More often than not, lasting love is a mystery we stumble into. If your love didn’t last and you are heartbroken, just come here to me. *we are hugging and I am petting your hair* You have full permission to feel how you want on V-Day. If you want wine and Casablanca and an unbridled ugly cry at home alone, have it. If you want your best friends and high heels and an expensive dinner and laughter, do it. If you want to write a dramatic, angry, emotional email to your lost other, do it then delete it in the morning (trust me on this one, Pet). I give you a Valentine. You are going to make it. You are precious and your story is not over.

For those of you who lost a Valentine to death, I celebrate your life of loving well and being loved well. I embrace your priceless memories and honor your story. I won’t dare attempt to minimize your grief. I only sit by you as a sister and agree that a Scheduled Day for Love is so hard when you miss your person. Whatever you loved most about your Valentine, I receive it here with grateful hands. If you want to remember them well in the comment section, we will hold your memories with reverence and thanksgiving here. You were loved and you still are. I give you a Valentine, dear one.

To those struggling with their Valentine:

You are fighting for your marriage or devotion or commitment, and along comes V-Day with its artificial affection and you want to burn it all to the ground. When you’re struggling to stay in the same room as your Valentine, a day of cards and flowers and affinity can tempt you toward despair. You hate everyone. You hate yourself. You hate your partner. You hate love. You hate Cupid, that snot-eyed flying baby.

I’ve been married twenty years. I know it, friend: marriage is hard. Ohmystars. Fighting for commitment is no joke. It is the grittiest work imaginable. Don’t believe the love hype you see on V-Day for a second. We’re all posting our best material. You are not the only couple struggling to see another day, I swear. You are not alone. I see you and honor your fight for love. Mercy, you are so brave.

I give you a Valentine for working hard. Us marrieds sit in solidarity with you. Getting together is easy; staying together is the work of a lifetime and sometimes it blows. Every hard conversation, every humble apology, every effort to listen, understand, compromise – standing ovation. You may not have the feelings but you are doing the work, and that deserves honor. Please reach out to us. May we come alongside each other’s marriages in support, counsel, wisdom, and backing.


With something as complicated as love, none of us should believe its mass commercialization. Don’t despair, friends, if it feels like salt in a wound. It’s just a fake day, but you are still loved, precious, valued with or without a $2.99 card.

Speaking of $2.99 card…Dear Brandon, V-Day is upon us and I am sorry to tell you that I suck again. Please reference the above-mentioned shaved legs and try to make your peace.

Your stories and memories and feelings are safe here. I love you and your people love you and God loves you. That’s enough love for one day. Happy Valentine’s Day, dear one.