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.
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.
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!
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.
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.