Romance & Wholeness

It turns out that I used to get totally sucked into Valentine’s Day. Yes, all of it. Chocolates. Small gifts. Romantic gestures. Surprise overnight trips. Deliveries to my work. A nice dinner. Lingerie. 

The day seemed to symbolize what I always wanted deep down – to be noticed, to be cared for, to be loved!!!! Oh, to be loved!!! And then there was a day to kind of measure the status…

Does anyone have their eye on me? Is anyone thinking about me today or want to choose ME to be with? Does this husband or boyfriend I’m with now really love me or even give a crap?

I guess in my twenties (especially in my first marriage), I constantly had to wonder if I was loved or cared for. It was like I would just hang on waiting for any gesture or expression – any amount of proof that the person did care. I thought if I just got thrown a bone from time to time, it would be enough. It did happen here and there and I lived for those moments. (Can anyone else relate?)

The reality is, no smidget of a candlelight dinner could make up for the lack of love and affection on most days nor could it make up for the awful instincts I had most of the time that the person would rather be with someone else.

And no amount of surprises could make up for the state I was in…my self worth was sadly attached to the behavior of another person. That’s how messed up my self-worth was.

I did get to the point where I finally decided I wanted to do something (anything!) to try and heal, to try and build some confidence on my own after feeling worthless in my marriage for so long.

And, a miracle happened. The heavens opened up for me and I actually really, really learned how to have a bit of self worth! And then I learned to have some more. It turns out that my miracle was that I met someone who really, really believed in me. She mentored me. She said I could do it. She said we ALL have to do it. Every single one of us. We ALL have to do the work, but it can be done. And so, I believed her. I gave it a try. I did the work. And she was right. I could do it. I could change. I already had everything I needed (inside of me) to do it. I could become a completely different person. And I did. (See “The Work I Did To Be Happy.”)

But, it turns out that no amount of self-worth on my end was going to entice my first husband. But the good news! Even though he left, I still had my self worth! He couldn’t change that. I had it all on my own. I had it in my empty apartment. I had it while sitting along in a church pew. I had it while showing up to events and parties alone. AND, I had it while being single and dating in NYC, knowing that my wholeness was not dependent on a guy. That was HUGE for me. And it’s huge for me now. This is at the foundation of my wonderful marriage with Danny.

I still love surprises. I still love romantic gestures. I still love having a good meal with my husband on Valentine’s Day.  ðŸ™‚ 🙂 🙂 But now, those things are just fun. I’m not waiting to be thrown a bone. I don’t need it. I’m not looking for proof of my worth from someone else or seeking wholeness from someone else. It’s the most liberating feeling in the world. 

These are photos from our Valentine’s Day in Copenhagen (yes, we’re in Copenhagen now and loving it!! 🙂 

So how about you? How was your Valentine’s Day? Would you say your experience of the day represents any reflection of where you might be in your life? (Maybe I’m the only one!) 

XO, Mara

P.S. And for the record, if anyone out there is wanting to develop more self worth, I just want to say that *I* believe in you with all my heart!! I know you can do it. I love you and know you have everything you need to do it. I believe that with my life!

[And this blog is proof. 🙂 🙂  I wouldn’t write here otherwise.]

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  1. Sally Scott February 17, 2014 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    Thank you Mara!

    I am single and this year I tried to spread love on Valentine's day rather than focusing on the fact that I was alone, I sent cards to my single girlfriends and spent the evening laughing with friends when my (married) friend threw a cheese and wine party instead of the traditional romantic meal with her husband. It was great.
    Then on Saturday I crashed and spent most of the day in bed! More work needed on feeling genuinely okay alone I think!

    Thank you for this blog, love hearing about your trips, am planning my own trip to Iceland in April.

  2. Anonymous February 17, 2014 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    I have been reading your blog for some time and I was wondering if you could do some more specific posts on how to live in a relationship like the one you mentioned. I understand that no one else can make you feel down and that you make your own happiness, but how does that work day in and day out, in the little moments that make up our life. For example, your spouse says something mean to you; your spouse lets you down time and time again so that you no longer have expectations – how do you avoid the resentment? How do you avoid feeling sad or depressed? Are there affirmations you used to say to yourself in those moments? Did you go off and read uplifting material? Did you try to communicate back your feelings? I don't know if I'm making sense or not, but I am struggling with this. My husband is a nice guy and works hard, but when he comes home there is nothing left for his family. No romantic gestures, no "how was your day", no help with our children, no consideration for our feelings. I very much feel like a single mother and am exhausted day in a day out with feeling like I am in a loveless marriage after 10 years. For a number of reasons I have decided to stay, but I so want to be happy and according to every self help guru out there, I can because I determine my own happiness. I agree with that on a big picture level, but how does this work on small picture level. When those sad moments occur, what do I do???

    • Melissa Salmon February 18, 2014 at 2:09 am - Reply

      Have you heard of The Five Love Languages by Dr. GARY CHAPMAN? I recommend this book to everybody who is in a relationship. It changed my marriage. I had the privilege of listening to him give a conference on this concept. He gave a story of a situation similar to yours that stuck with me. The wife was pushed to the breaking point by not feeling loved or acknowledged. She discovered what her husband's love language was and begAn to make a daily effort to make HIM feel loved w/o expecting anything in return. Eventually her husband began to reciprocate b/c he was feeling so good. This barely scratches the surface of the story but I really, really encourage you to check it out. When we are selfless and work on our marriage you are bound to see results. The trick is working on it in a way that will make your husband feel loved.


  3. Melissa Nutter February 17, 2014 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    I love this Mara! I really enjoy your perspective on self worth!

    I think so many of us get SO wrapped up with the relationship right in front of us that we tend to forget to nurture other very important relationships that will help our self worth and help us fight for the love we have in our life like, family, close friends, and even God. All these relationships will help us find our self worth!

    Sally Scott, I love that you took the time to show love to your friends on Valentines day. I think Mara talks about that in this blog as well. Giving to others can take your mind off of your own hurts. Just because someone is in a relationship doesn't mean they are happy. Valentines day can be even worse for someone who is in a hurting relationship.

    Good stuff!!

  4. Laura February 18, 2014 at 1:52 am - Reply

    I've been really working on this this year. I've been realizing the more I seek for God first, the self worth and all those principles fall into line. When I'm feeling really vulnerable, or falling into putting a guy's thoughts or opinions at the center of my universe, it's my notice to myself that I need to realign my thought process. I need to seek for self worth and love from my Heavenly Father, because then I have perspective. I am me, and I am loved as His daughter no matter if that guy calls or doesn't. And I'm happier for it. I can enjoy Valentine's day as a beautiful day, buy myself a flower if I want to, all of that. And anything he does is a perk, not hustled for. It makes it that much sweeter, because I love myself, AND he loves me. Not he loves me, so I love myself. It's such a difference.

  5. Anonymous February 18, 2014 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    You guys are such a cute couple!

    I have a question for you. I really need help.
    I know my husband loves me, and I love him. He tells me he loves me, he does acts of service for me, he is the best father. But lately our relationship has been so blah. I am exhausted at the end of the day (stay at home mom) and he works long hours. I know he loves and cares for me, but sometimes I feel like he doesn't *like* me, because I know I can act in a way that is hard to like. And frankly, I haven't *liked* him much. How do I turn myself back into that cool, irresistible girl he used to know? And how do I get to a place where I'm not annoyed with him all the time? I know this is about me, and I need to change my negative and grumpy mindset. Any ideas?

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