14 Feb 2011

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day was never a momentous day in my life. Growing up and spending my adolescence in Australia meant that as a celebratory day it wasn’t really a big deal, it wasn’t marketed or observed in the same way that it is today. Like all teenage girls, with a fascination for teenage boys, I pondered that emotionally loaded question, ‘Who would be my Valentine’ but apart from the occasional blank card (sent no doubt by my best friend at the time) February 14th came and went by very uneventfully. That is until I met my husband.

I wouldn’t say that he is romantic in the traditional way; I would say that he is a master of the unexpected. Romance for him is about surprise; romance is about being romantic when I least expect it. Most recently he left on my bedside table the Penguin classic First Love by Ivan Turgenev, a short tale of a young man’s awakening to the complex nature of love. When I asked him what made him think of this book, he smiled in his quiet way and told me that he was always thinking of me. Few words spoken, much tenderness. 

He is Australian, like me, and was not brought up to celebrate love on a given day; over time he has learned that Valentine’s Day is an important date in a woman’s calendar and one not to be missed. He plays along happily, he never disappoints, but the truth is that the greatest romantic moments in my life have never occurred on Valentine’s Day. This day of ‘red roses’, ‘love hearts’ and ‘soft centred chocolates’ has become a day of reflection and gratitude for me. I am both a woman in love and a woman that is loved. To be loved is one of life’s most precious gifts and to be loved by the same man for thirty years is nothing short of miraculous. If Valentine’s Day is never anything more for me than a reminder that I am a most fortunate woman then I will forever mark that day and cherish it. 
Counting back my thirty Valentines would make a grand old tally of sentimental memorabilia but the sum total of my romance, my own great love, is so much more than flowers, seductive dinners and poetic words. More than the most generous of gifts, it is the sweet stolen looks, the unexpected praise and the personal comfort that comes with familiarity. Romance; real live butterfly-making-spine-tingling-weak-at-the-knees-tear-blinking romance happens when you least expect it..
And that is where Valentine’s Day can disappoint.

We know that this official day for romance is coming, just after Christmas and a little before Easter. We wait as the big stores exchange Christmas tinsel for red velvets and then we expect to be spoilt and surprised by our partners. Expectation is the enemy of surprise and expectation has never been the friend of romance. Affairs of the heart and our fond memories of them are more often than not about the small intimacies and the revelations stumbled upon along the way. It is what we discover together and learn about each other that will become the backbone of our romance and strengthen our bond of love.
Not every day can be Valentine’s Day but how much more romantic the world would be and how much happier we would feel if we remembered more often to show the people we love that we are thinking of them. The simple gestures – to show affection, to be forgiving and gentle, to listen, to be generous with praise and to be passionate  – these are the ways to revel in each other’s company and the way to celebrate love… xv

VA In Your Inbox

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Tai Tai

This is by far the best and most beautiful post I've seen about Valentine's day! You hit the nail on the head with such style. It's the perfect thought for a day like today x


A lovely reflection on the nature of love and a pleasant contrast to the commercialisation of love on Valentines Day.Thank you.


Well said Vicky, I particularly loved your description,
'real live butterfly-making-spine-tingling-weak-at-the-knees-tear-blinking romance'
Wonderful! and how lucky are we who have ever experienced that, even if only once, that is enough:0) xxx


Dear Vicki,
I loved your thoughts today. You have encapsulated beautifully your love with your husband.
Truly a wonderful man.
I particularly loved your thoughts here..

"my own great love, is so much more than flowers, seductive dinners and poetic words. More than the most generous of gifts, it is the sweet stolen looks, the unexpected praise and the personal comfort that comes with familiarity. Romance; real live butterfly-making-spine-tingling-weak-at-the-knees-tear-blinking romance happens when you least expect it.". Vicki Archer

Here is to the unexpected.
Hope your day was a happy one. ..something tells me it was.

mondo cherry

Sounds like you have got yourself a good one! I would much prefer to be cherished daily in small ways, than to be showered with gifts, chocolates etc on one day a year. When we opened our little notes to each other at dinner tonight, my kids asked if we could do it every night! And why not!?! It is so easy to forget to tell them (and my husband) why they are loved in the rush of everyday life. Easy to say "I love you" but harder to add the "because…." and to do the actions that speak louder than words.
Clare x


Very true and thanks for sharing the introduction to Women's Voices for Change.

My husband has lived in the U.S. for more than 30 years and he still scratches his head over the single day that is marketed as the day to show love.


Love this wonderful piece!! And I couldn't agree more that showing people we care about the love we feel should certainly be celebrated more than a once a year!

adriana lobo

Hi Vicky, Valentine in Brazil is in June, but I couldn't help writing to you, as next Monday my husband and I celebrate our 30th wedding anniversay! Like yours, my husband is not very attached to dates, his romantic side is kind of "anarchic", it comes out in refreshing fruit juices in bed on summer mornings or sudden kidnappings for cinema on Monday afternoons… Many many many Valentines ago I used to wait for cards or boxes of chocolate, I was then learning to know my love and myself. But children and grandchild later I realized that what really matters is the joy of waking up every day, for 30 years now, next to my husband. Simple as that…

alison bariteau

What a treat to have read something so beautiful as this today. A golden nugget, a precious gem – and especially so in the context of today's superficial attitudes to relationships. Thank you for being willing to share with us something from your secret garden, your treasure chest. May it shine as a light at a time when there is so little continuity in families – where the word "commitment" almost sounds as something from a bygone era. And yet, Society is crying out for it….can we hear? Thank you, thank you for your beautiful heart on this 14th February 2011….you have opened it to us – may it be widely read.


This is how I'm comforting myself for a Valentine's Day without my beloved, that the memories that really have staying power are usually those completely out of the blue :-)

All the same I hope you have a wonderful day!

Jem xXx

peggy braswell

How beautifully written+yes,you & David are both blessed you found each other.Many congratulations on 30 years together and here's to 30 more glorious years! Happy Valentine's dear Vicki.xx peggybraswelldesign.com

Divine Theatre

One day set aside to officially express your admiration seems disengenuous.
St. Valentine lived his life as a faithful servant to God and was martyred for it.
I would like to think people would honor such passion and faith with more than a red box of chocolates.


Oh, how true! You're so correct, Vicki. Love should be celebrated every day, at all moments. Your husband's comment that he was always thinking of you almost broke my heart with its tenderness. A guy like that should be cloned!

Valentine's Day was never special for me personally until I started to play the harp. Then, being able to play romantic music for people as they celebrated was so rewarding. This year I'm not playing the harp (I'll be at home coughing, sneezing and drinking hot tea instead), but the memories of those special occasions to which I've added my music over the years will bring a little romance to my day!


Vicki, This is so thoughtfully and tenderly composed. I agree that V Day can often seem so contrived, forced and artificial. True love should be celebrated everyday in the unexpected and important ways. Hear, hear. Have a very Happy Valentines. xo


Very well said, I was going to blog about the "the day" but you have said it all for me. Here in the USA it is way overdone. growing up in England if you got a Valentine it was always a secret as to who sent it. I like that so much better.

Blue Muse

I just love your posts. They truly make my day. Wise words, beautiful words, my lovely friend.

"I am both a woman in love and a woman that is loved."

xo Isa


Beautiful post, Vicki…just wonderful. I agree with you that the most romantic moments are the simple yet memorable gestures of daily life! xxoo :)


You said it, sister. This is one of my favorite Valentine's posts ever.

Thank you, Vicki. Sending you love today and every day! xo Gigi


Hi Vicki,
Your last sentence brought a mist to my eyes….so true and so beautifully expressed. We all know that Valentines Day is driven by the great, thundering machine of commercialism and is merely a means to an end for people to make a profit. All we need to do is remember your words and they can apply at any time, Christmas, Easter, birthdays….

Exquisite Accessories

Ooh you write so beautifully Vicky, I so agree about the commercialisation of Valentines day so sad how some girs can feel let down when its only another day.
I always love the unexpected signs of love & affection better. To be so loved & to love is such a gift it's self.



Really beautiful thoughts to be taken to heasrt by all of us!!

Thank you for adding so much to my life!

Art by Karena


Yes, as one now married to the same man for (help!) 52 years, and an Australian, Valentines day has never meant much, an occasional card, but our wedding anniversary is on the 7th so that is a far more important date, which he never forgets, and to be quite honest Valentines day really doesnt have a lot of impact.
It is just nice to know one is still loved and appreciated even after such a long time ( and we knew each other and loved each other for a few years before our wedding!)

snippets of thyme

I wasn't going to leave a comment because so many others can communicate so well. I feel like I sound so redundant. However, I just really enjoyed your article on Valentine's Day. So I decided to come back and say something. I gave each of my family members a very small but very personal token for this holiday that has grown exponentially in the last few years. It has become "cheesy". Anyway, I really wanted to throw in my 2 cents with everyone else. What wonderful words and sentiments you conveyed.


Such a most wonderful post!
I wrote today about writing love letters and I think your post is just like that, a love letter to your husband as it couldn't be any more poignant!
And I absolutely get your point about this day, being European we never celebrated this day until our children came along and all things American are filled with new meaning! Getting those handmade love notes from our children is sheer bliss!

Keep your love lose to you!


Merci Vicki. How true. Having a great partner to work and raise children and share life alongside is gift enough. And sometimes that poured second cup of coffee or installed towel bar. Hope you had a lovely day! Trish

Paris Atelier

Hoe beautiful Vicki, I teared up reading this. It made me think about my own great love. We are very blessed girls!
Happy Valentine's Day…Today and everyday.


You two are to be congratulated on making it to thirty years. That is such an accomplishment. I didn't find the right man until my second marriage but I feel blessed every day that we found each other. He's another one of those quiet ones who show love in unexpected ways.

Shell Sherree

The kind of love you share ~ it's the stuff of dreams. Truly thoughtful little somethings out of the blue are important beyond measure. I'm so happy for you both.


You are right Vicki. I told MOTH years ago to forget the flowers & choccies on Valentine's. Just surprise me by running the vaccum over the floors or scrubbing the bathrooom when I least expect it, that will really win my heart!
Millie x

Ingrid Mida

What a beautiful reflection on love Vicki. I feel the same way about my Valentine. He makes me feel like every day is Valentine's Day. That is a rare and beautiful thing.


I came back to this post because it expressed so clearly how much the love I share with my beautiful husband means to me. So much so that I forwarded to him explaining that I felt the same but couldn't put it into words as beautifully as you had. Love is a gift that we must treasure, nuture and share with those dearest to us. Thank you once again Vicki


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