Whether you’re married, single or divorced, Valentine’s Day’s emphasis on romance and the expectations it sparks can create more stress than joy for many people, says Dr. Jaime Kulaga, a practicing therapist and life coach.
“There can be pressure on Feb. 14 for anyone,” says Dr. Kulaga, author of “Type ‘S’uperWoman – Finding the Work-Life Balance: A Self-Searching Book for Women,” (www.mindfulrehab.com).
“The ‘happily single’ may begin to have doubts; spouses may question the quality of their marital relationship; and for someone who recently experienced a breakup, the holiday can bring nothing but heartache.”
Kulaga says she prefers to view Valentine’s Day as an opportunity for personal growth.
She suggests planning a date with yourself on Valentine’s Day, no matter your current relationship status.
• If you’re single … The holiday is not just for couples; it’s for anyone who wants to strengthen a relationship, including the one with yourself. This is, after all, the most important and truly lifelong relationship we all have. Being comfortable in your own skin and in silence and with your own thoughts is a sign of self acceptance and emotional maturity. So, what kind of date would you take you on?
Meditation can be like confronting yourself for the first time, mentally naked. Can you literally do nothing but keep quiet and still for five, 10 or 20 minutes? Maybe you want to take yourself on an adventure — consider spending a day or evening visiting places you’d never otherwise go. Or, you may simply cook yourself your favorite meal – or go out. Dinner for one is much cheaper!
• If you have a spouse … Even though you likely won’t be alone on Valentine’s Day, there’s no reason you shouldn’t spend some time working on the relationship you have with yourself. Some couples participate in “girls’ (or boys’) night out” to gently establish a measure of independence in their relationship, but that’s not the same as spending quality time alone. Try a peaceful walk in the park, fishing or spending a few hours with a great novel. If you have plans on Feb. 14, make some time for yourself Feb. 13. It can make date night on the next day all the more rewarding.
• If you’re divorced or recently heartbroken … As with a romance, you shouldn’t limit your focus on improving your relationship to just one day of the year. Take yourself out to somewhere that’s a treat; be spontaneous; think about your dreams and priorities — the ones that come from your passions, talents and skills. Most importantly, be loving on this “date.” Whether or not you’re eager to find another romantic partner, you’ll be in a better place to meet Mr. or Ms. Right if you’re confident in your feelings about you. Your past relationships do not define you, but they can make you stronger and wiser.
Dr. Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D, LMHC, CPC
Motivated by watching those she coaches become successful and with a true passion for helping others, Dr. JaimeKulaga earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology, and master’s and doctorate’s in counseling. As a licensed mental health counselor and certified professional coach, she has a special interest in the complex lives of today’s women. She serves as a go-to expert resource for Bay News 9, the Tampa Bay area’s 24-hour news channel, and as a coach for individuals, couples and business people.