Valentine’s Day – Disappointment or Confusion?

Note from Dustin: Ahhh Valentine’s Day, it seems like most couples either love it or hate it.  Personally, we try not to save the romantic stuff for just one day of the year, but we also find that it’s a great reminder to make sure we’re treating each other in a special way.  I’m happy to feature this post from popular relationship author Kim Olver on the subject…and don’t miss the great book giveaway at the end!

Being a relationship counselor, I hear a lot of things said about the Valentine’s Day holiday. The main theme involves it being a holiday that often leaves women disappointed and men confused.

Does this happen to you? If so, keep reading. I’m going to talk about why this happens and what to do about it.

Somehow, somewhere, someone designated February 14th as the day for love.

It is on this particular day, you are supposed to be most loving toward your significant other. The problem is most of us don’t know exactly what that means.

Men are asking, “What does she want?” and “I resent being told I have to perform loving deeds on a particular day. Shouldn’t this be happening all year long?”

Women on the other hand are fantasizing about all their dreams coming true on that one day of the year. It will be the day their husbands miraculously transform into their Prince Charming. This will be the day he will do the things his wife wants him to do that he doesn’t do the other 364 days of the year.

This is why women are bound to be disappointed and men are left feeling confused.

Women generally have unrealistic expectations that they fail to clearly communicate and men are left guessing what their wives want and often fall short because they don’t pick up on the subtle cues their wives leave hoping to lead them toward the answers.

People come into a marriage with all their beliefs and values they’ve been collecting their whole lives. They have different thoughts about what being married is supposed to be and one of those differences usually revolves around how Valentine’s Day will look and what will happen that day.

Imagine a person who came from a family where her parents always went out on Valentine’s Day and there were cards and gifts exchanged. Then, when she woke up the next day, her parents were affectionate toward each other, throwing each other knowing glances she would notice.

Now, imagine her spouse coming from a home where Valentine’s Day was just a day like any other. Nothing special happened that day. His parents got up as usual. There was a rush in the kitchen in the morning to get everyone off in their respective directions and then that night after everyone came home, it was business as usual. No one even said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Can you see how these two people might have a challenge creating a satisfying shared experience for Valentine’s Day?

So, why don’t they talk about their different vision you might ask? When someone has the same cultural experience year after year, it becomes very clear that that is just how it is. There is no questioning that perhaps things could be done differently. If doesn’t even occur to the person to discuss differences because they can’t even conceive there would be differences. It would be like a fish questioning water or people questioning oxygen. It’s just the way things are. To suggest otherwise is lunacy.

So now, what to do?

There are two people with very different ideas of how things “should” be on the momentous occasion of Valentine’s Day.

I suggest that the person who is most upset with the way things usually go is the one who should take the first step. Why? Because people need to take responsibility for their own happiness. So the most unhappy person should initiate the conversation about what will happen this year. Since you are the one reading this article, I’m going to guess that is you.

It is important to not be critical. When you bring up the conversation, do not rehash other Valentine’s Days gone by. Talk about how important it is to you for both of you to enjoy the day.

Ask your spouse how he or she would like to spend the day? Find out what’s important to him or her. Then share the specifics of what you really want for that day. It’s important to spell things out. Despite what you may wish, you spouse can’t read your mind.

If you look at the problem of discrepant desires for the day together, seeking a solution that can work for both of you instead of blaming each other, then you will be able to find a solution.

What’s important is to look at the problem together, rather than pointing fingers at each other. If your ideas are so different that it doesn’t seem possible to reconcile them, then you can decide to have two Valentine’s Days—perhaps one on 2/13 and one on 2/15 where each of you gets the day you’d like most.

The idea is to find a way to please each other instead of blaming each other. Give your spouse what he or she wants instead of trying to please him or her with what you would want in the same situation. Create a solution that will give both of you what you need and your relationship will grow stronger.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Win a Copy of Secrets of Happy Couples!

Kim has a fabulous book called Secrets of Happy Couples, and she has generously agreed to give away a copy to one lucky Engaged Marriage reader.

To enter this giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment below sharing what you’d love to experience on Valentine’s Day.

I will select one commenter at random to win the book at Noon CST on Thursday, February 16th. Good luck!

Kim Olver is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and life coach specializing in relationships. She is also the author of Secrets of Happy Couples: Loving Yourself, Your Partner, and Your Life. If you’d like to stay in touch with her, sign up for her free newsletter at http://www.therelationshipcenter.biz and get a free recording describing her revolutionary InsideOut Empowerment process.

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About Dustin

Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

Comments

  1. i’d love to be able to have an intimate, 1:1 encounter with my wife. it could be in a park, in a restaurant, in our home — but an experience where everyone and everything else in the world took a backseat. No kids, no office politics, no debt worries. Just us; like when we were younger.

    rix.
    married 10 years.

  2. Confused? As I a guy, I certainly can’t read my wife’s mind, but I can step up my game for Valentine’s day. This is an easy win for men. Even if you can’t think of something particularly creative or romantic, you spend a little quality time with Google to come up with a good idea.

  3. I personally have never been a fan of Valentine’s Day because it leaves people disappointed who aren’t in a relationship and as mentioned above people are either disappointed or confused. Not to mention the massive marketing machine about spending (when you are in debt/dealing with unemployment this can sometimes make everyone feel worse).

    What would I love to experience this year. Two things one an evening with my husband where we do something together that makes us both feel good maybe make dinner together and make a special dessert. Snuggle up and watch something that inspires love. Maybe even have a slow dance to our song. I am part of a community organization that participates with an organization called Girls Action Foundation that celebrates Valentines Day as a celebration of girls and young women and all the fabulous things they offer. It will be nice to experience that tomorrow and some loving time with my husband.

  4. Beckey & Jeff says:

    I only need to experience what I have year round, a wonderful, caring husband and our 6 month old daughter.

    I don’t ever expect anything for Valentine’s.

    However, being the technical geek that I am, my husband did buy me a computer memory upgrade (now I have 10GB in my PC) and he is getting a new radio in his Jeep so he can connect his iPhone to his car speakers to listen to music.

  5. I would love to experience, more than anything, my OWN self-love this Valentine’s Day. I find that when I’m full of love for myself and feel my own worth and value, I am overflowing with love for others and this feels better than anything anyone else could ever give me.

  6. The hubs already surprised me w/a prenatal massage and Brazilian food this past weekend! So, I told him I have no expectations for Valentine’s Day. But I think that’s the key, we talked about it. Now, if I can just figure out what to do for him…Good thing they way to a man’s heart is through his…stomach ;o)

  7. Valentines Day is fun, but I took up the 14 days of Valentines Day challenge this year so my husband has been receiving one small gift all month and tomorrow he will receive his last gift which I haven’t really finished yet but will get to it. On V day all I really want is a fun family dinner as we have 9 year old twins we include them in our dinner and some flowers from my hubby and then a quiet evening together. I don’t want a ton of money spent and I don’t want any frivilous stuff just time.

  8. We have had our problems with this holiday in the past, but we have figured out how to avoid the problem with expectations. We plan something we can do together for the day whether it is a movie, bowling, dinner, etc, and stay away from gifts and such. This year we are going to make dinner together and share it with the kids. We will then send them to bed early and spend some quality time together.

  9. Excellent advice! We’re not big Valentine’s Day celebrants in my house, so the hubs and I keep it low-key. We might give a card or hand-written note, a few extra kisses and hugs, and we’re both fine with that. We talked about our expectations long ago and figured out what works. Each couple is different, though.

  10. I would love to just reconnect with my husband. We work different shifts and this is one of the few nights that we will actually be able to enjoy dinner and several uninterrupted hours together. For me, just being to spend time with him is the greatest gift.

  11. I’m happy with just going out to eat with my husband, usually a steak dinner. When we have the extra money, we enjoy a movie and buying valentine’s candy. Also, we make sure to spend some alone time together sometime that evening after the children are in bed.
    Valentine’s Day is a fun holiday!

  12. I like the idea of getting one flower or one of anything small and sweet… just to know he cares, and is thinking of me… I have gotten flowers maybe a handful of times since we met 9 years ago, so when I do get them (not that I am counting on it), I know it is extra special. I like when I know it is something he thought about prior to valentines eve. =)

  13. On Valentine’s Day I would love to just have some alone time with my husband. We would not have to do anything extravagant; just be together.

  14. I would like roses. It not only signifies his love for me, but it would be an answer from St. Therese that we would have a baby! The baby would represent the love we share with one another. The best St. Valentine’s gift ever!

  15. Vals day is like any other day to show love! I don’t think I need a special day to demonstrate love to my spouse. I love him and our little daughter and I know he loves me too. That’s enough.

    Having said that, I want people to experience the love God has for us his children and be blown away by it

  16. I’d love a kid-free dinner w/my husband!

  17. Shaunna Ulrick says:

    I just want frozen yogurt…request has been made and I am pretty confident I will get it :)

  18. I don’t need roses or jewelry or even chocolates. Romance to me would be just having him cut out a heart and write a few heartfelt thoughts on it and hiding under my dinner plate or pillow. Something with just a little creativity and thought is all I need.

  19. I’d love to just spend some quality, stress-free time with my partner.

  20. Sounds like a wonderful book! I would like to have a nice dinner at a nice restaurant with sweet music. I imagine my husband holding a bunch of flowers and hugging me tight telling me he loves me.

    None of these happened on our Valentine’s date.

    But I was just as happy. =) He is the love of my life and though I would want all these fantasies to be reality, I’m blessed that I have a loving husband by my side everyday. =)

  21. Since it is a day that is specifically set aside to commemorate your love, I would like him to step-up his game a little, realize their are some expectations of romance, and rise to the occasion. Life is busy. Valentines Day is just a reminder to remember all the reasons you have chosen each other, and reconnect. Who would not enjoy knowing that their partner has put some thought and creativity into doing something that will make their partner feel loved, valued and appreciated? I always try and include something personalized just for him, whether it be handmade or modified to be uniquely for him. Anything that required a little thought would be greatly appreciated.

  22. WOW! I love everyone’s comments! This is the single best marriage community online, hands-down.

    The lucky winner of the free book was Lee! I have emailed you with the details.

    Thank you to everyone who took the time to share a comment, and I hope none of you were disappointed or confused with Valentine’s Day this year. :)

    Dustin

  23. Very interesting article…it’s very true. It is much easier to tell our partner what we want… whether than assuming they know and then feeling disappointed because our expectations were not fulfilled.

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