Be Intentional When You Celebrate

When you celebrate a wedding or a holiday like Valentine's Day, do you ever stop to think about doing it differently? Or even more importantly, do you think about the deeper meaning? Let's think about it in a little depth.

I'll start with weddings. The average age for a first marriage is 29 for women and 31 for men. And the average price for a wedding is $26,645. Can you believe that?!? I mean, the average person doesn't usually have that much cash laying around. And even if they do, should they really be spending it on a celebration that lasts only a few hours? And for most of the weddings I've been to, the bride and groom spend at least half the night saying hello and thanking people for coming. So it doesn't even seem like they have much fun - at least not as much fun as the guests who aren't paying for it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to criticize anyone who has big weddings. I love being a guest at them! What I'm really trying to say is that sometimes it feels like people put so much money into weddings because it's "expected." It's almost like our culture puts "peer pressure" on everyone to have these big weddings - even if they can't afford it. I once had a student who was going through a divorce after being married less than a year. And on top of that, she was paying off the $25,000 she charged on her credit cards for the wedding. I just felt really sorry for her. So if you agree that spending over $31,000 for one evening isn't reasonable, then why not try something different? There are many ideas for a smaller, more intimate wedding.

For instance, when I got married, I had a beach wedding. I did it on purpose because I only wanted family and close friends attending. Not because I don't like other people, but I didn't want to have people that I didn't know there (like my dad's roommate from college whom I've never met). Get the point? And a beach wedding can be anything from going to some luxury destinations by yourselves to having a slightly larger wedding closer to home with a group of people. The possibilities are endless, and you should choose whatever feels right to you.

Speaking of love, what about Valentine's Day? In theory, it's supposed to be a day to celebrate the love you have with your significant other. In other words, it's generally a romantic holiday. But don't you feel that "peer pressure" from culture to do the usual - candy, flowers, and jewelry? I know I do (minus the jewelry part). So what do you do for your partner on Valentine's Day? Do you get the usual candy and flowers? Not that those gifts aren't nice, but maybe it'd be fun to do something different! Do something out of the ordinary that you don't normally do on the other days of the year. There are many fun ideas that you can try. And while you're at it, think about this: why do we have one day a year in which we celebrate our love? Why don't we keep up this behavior every day? I think we should do it all the time.

And while weddings and Valentine's Day are fun, don't forget the deeper meaning behind them. Sometimes we get so focused on the party or buying the perfect gift that we don't pause to think about what it all really means. For example, so many people focus on the wedding details that they forget to really talk and plan their lives with their future spouse. They should have conversations about how are they going to keep their relationship healthy and happy for the rest of their lives. And also about handling finances, having kids, and communication styles. All of that and much more should be discussed before the wedding planning ever begins.

And as I said earlier, why not stop to think about how to improve your relationship on Valentine's Day? No one gives us a roadmap for how to have a successful, lasting, loving relationship. It's up to you and your partner. So instead of doing the cliché things on Valentine's Day, why not use the day as the first step to communicating with and staying connected to your partner? Because this holiday should be so much more than just a "Hallmark Holiday."

I have always embraced doing things differently than most people. And I have always been a deep thinker as well. So that's why I always teach my students to be intentional, think, and analyze. I tell them not to just do something because everyone else does it that way. And if you do, at least know why you're doing it the same. Bottom line: whether it's a cultural celebration like these or anything else in life, don't do it with blinders on. Be intentional with your actions!