Years ago, while traveling in Mexico over Valentine’s Day, I fell into conversation with my Mexican guide about the holiday.
She explained that in Mexico, the day is celebrated as a day to extend friendship, to enjoy special treats with family and amigos. It is not a day of romantic love.
I’ve chewed on that thought over the years and arrived (finally) at two different perspectives. First, if Valentine’s honors romantic love, it seems that a woman as well as a man needs to exchange tokens of their affection. In other words, they give a gift to each other. Either party may initiate the gift.
My second newly burnished perspective enjoys the idea of letting friends and family know I’m thinking of them. A card or short note. A box of candy. An unexpected phone call. A fruit basket. A pack of chewing gum. Tokens of friendship and love need not be grandiose. After all, it’s the expression of caring that counts.
If You Walk Long Enough finds Reid and Ellie, like many veterans returning from Vietnam, at a high risk for divorce. When PTSD ((Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is factored in, the incident of divorce increases.
Reid and Ellie are married five short years— two years before the war, then several years while Reid completes two overseas tours, and a scant eight months upon returning. When he returns in 1970, Reid and Ellie discover they must reexamine their inner lives and their marriage. Cultural expectations and much-changed social mores slam into them. Changed lifestyles, lack of mutual understanding, and adultery are frequent causes of divorce. In many cases, abuse enters the picture.
Least you think this phenomenon unique to the United States, studies have shown that Vietnamese couples also experienced high divorce rates rooted in the same issues post-conflict as Western couples.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Vietnam much like in the U.S. Interesting that our two countries have much in common with both the intertwining of love and marriage as well as the slow dissolve of both. Send out those valentine thoughts to lovers, parents, friends, and others this year. It’s a good year to be inclusive.