Valentine’s Day Planning
If all the pink hearts and chocolates you’ve been seeing in stores since just after Christmas weren’t enough of a giveaway, it’s Valentine’s Day. The first conversational candy hearts were crafted by the New England Confectioners Company in 1866. Yes, that means we’ve been doing this for over 150 years. And this year you probably heard that due to a change in control at the company, it would not be producing the chalky, nearly flavorless candies. Yet Valentine’s Day marches on. The National Retail Federation projects that we will spend $19.6 billion this year on Valentine’s Day.
All the hubbub can leave many feeling like they’re missing something: a romantic partner, a partner who is romantic, or the right combination of candlelit dinner/jewelry/flowers/candy. Setting aside the consumerist take-over of the day (as well as its dark history), and considering its modern meaning more broadly — as a celebration of love — that is a worthy goal. Love is one of the few truly infinite resources we have, and it takes many forms: romantic love, friendship, familial love, self-esteem or love of oneself, and love outside of one’s self, whether that be for humankind, nature, a vocation or God. Building a truly rich life incorporates as many of the types of love as possible. Celebrating and enhancing these connections is what we strive to do.
Valentine’s and Love
Last week I went to hear John and Julie Gottman talk about love. Not about finding it, but about knowing when you really have it, and about keeping it once you do. The Gottmans were at Town Hall to promote their new book, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.
Gottman and his colleague Robert Levenson founded the “Love Lab” 45 years ago. As the story goes, they were “two clueless guys who knew nothing about relationships” who decided to research relationships. John recalled how, 33 years ago as a newbie to Seattle, he decided to answer every personal ad in the Seattle Weekly. In two months, he dated 60 women, and that experience was the start of his “date-a-base.” Over the years at the Gottman Institute, they studied 3,000 couples to see if they could find scientific evidence of the characteristics of long-lasting love. John’s methodology and the Love Lab developed their renown based on their 94% accuracy rate in predicting whether couples would stay together.
Love and Connection
When asked about what keeps people on the hunt for love, despite rejection and failures, Julie Gottman noted that at the core of their research they find that what we all want is connection. She says this, and the room gets quiet. At the end of the day, we all want to be valued, to be seen, to be heard, to be loved. Whether we’re coupled or not, this need for connection unites us all.
Love In Many Forms / On Many Forms
The other take-away from the Gottmans’ talk is how the base of any good relationship is in how we communicate. Whether love between romantic partners, friends, within families of origin and of choice, communities to which we belong – all types of love enrich our lives. You want to enjoy them while you have them, and you might want to leave something to them after you’re gone. This is where a little planning comes in.
Each of your retirement accounts (401k, 403b, 457, IRA etc) and life insurance policies passes to your heirs by way of a Designated Beneficiary. You may think your Will controls everything, but it does not control these assets. Because life is long and things change, you should check your beneficiaries to make sure they are current. Beneficiaries can be people and/or charitable organizations. To check yours, you should be able to go online to view your retirement account beneficiaries, and typically you just need to submit a form to change them if needed. For life insurance policies, beneficiaries may be viewable online, or call your carrier. If you’ve gotten married, divorced, had children or have just had a change of heart regarding your legacy, check in to make sure you beneficiaries are up-to-date.
In addition to however else you might plan to celebrate (or not celebrate) Valentine’s Day, do choose a day to check in about your beneficiaries. Make sure the ones you love are reflected accordingly.
A Note on Galentine’s
If Valentine’s Day isn’t for you, perhaps Galentine’s Day is. In 2010 Amy Poehler’s character on Parks & Recreation, Leslie Knope, invented the notion of “Galentine’s Day.” February the 13th became the day when women celebrate their female friendships, traditionally over breakfast which Knope described as “Lilith Fair minus the angst and plus frittatas.” Eight years after that TV episode aired, we’re still referencing this holiday. It’s true both days have been mercilessly merchandised and enforce stereotypes about women (single and coupled), money and what we all want. But who doesn’t like an excuse for frittatas?
If you missed Galentine’s Day this year but want to plan ahead for 2020, here is more info on How to Celebrate Galentine’s Day the Leslie Knope Way .
In any event, here’s to a happy Thursday and a little love in your life.