Valentines... compassion & respect

Updated: May 5, 2019

Valentines... compassion & respect

by Karen E. Lee

Karen E Lee, author of the memoir, The Full Catastrophe

I have written about my two very unhappy and abusive marriages in my memoir The Full Catastrophe yet I married again – am I a fool? Or do I remain a romantic at heart? Is love the problem for women, or is it our willingness to throw our fears to the wind and hook up with doubtful men despite our misgivings?

I used to see the cards my father gave to my mother on all the usual holidays – her birthday, Valentines, Christmas – but I knew they weren’t happy together. I felt embarrassed to see the romantic personal note he would write on each card for her because I was pretty sure she did not return the feelings. And I’d heard the insults he threw at her that, perhaps, were supposed to be erased by the sentiments in the cards.

Yet, despite that, I thought, for me, romance and marriage would work out. I would be able to have the happiness my parents didn’t. Of course, I was yo

up in a story that says getting cards, flowers and chocolates is important - these things somehow tell us that someone loves us despite the reality of the relationship.

The statistics are staggering. One of every four women will be abused by the person that says those words, “I love you,” to them. So what is the value of giving and receiving gifts on February 14th? Shouldn’t more emphasis be given to learning to treat each other with the respect, care, and love they deserve and need?

Women still believe that waiting for the right person to make their lives complete is a goal worth working towards. That wedding dress and a diamond ring are the symbols that prove life is working out the way it is supposed to. But we know that these trappings are not really guarantees of happiness – in fact, perhaps ironically, research has proven that single women are the happiest people in our country. No matter how we look at it, chocolates, cards and flowers don’t reflect the reality of most people’s love lives – and perhaps they never did. So why do we cling to them? Is it the hope of a better reality for women and their partners? Is it a promise that, even if it doesn’t reflect reality, it will some day?

I’m not saying that a box of long stem roses isn’t a good thing, but perhaps women have been settling for too little for too long. It took me fifty years to wake up to the fact that I had not been assertive enough in my love life – I had settled for just the cards and chocolate. Now in my present marriage I have the other things – companionship, respect and real give and take – but we still give each other cards and chocolates.

Karen Elizabeth Lee, author The Full Catastrophe, A Memoir

Wednesday March 21 is our next LOL Reading Cafe with special guest, author Karen Elizabeth Lee. If you are interested in reading Karen's book The Full Catastrophe her book is available through or you can message Ladies Out Loud to purchase a copy.