- Gender and Relationships
Valentine’s Day Disappointments
I received the best Valentine’s Day advice I’ve ever heard from a pastor in Poland. I know, not the first place I would go to look for counsel in amore, but stick with me.
Mirek was making casual conversation with my husband and I, asking us how long we had been married. We were happy to announce that we had just celebrated our third anniversary on our trip there in 2003. It was then that he shared some marital wisdom with us:
“My wife and I never get each other gifts for our anniversary or Valentine’s Day. It’s not that we don’t get each other gifts! For our birthdays we do, for Christmas we do. Because her birthday is about her, my birthday is about me. But an anniversary? Valentine’s Day? Those days are supposed to be about us. So we take the money that most people put towards extravagant gifts, and we use that for something for both of us. It might be a nice dinner out, it might be a night or two away, or something else. But since these days are supposed to be about us as a couple, we make the day about us.”
At first I shrank back at this pronouncement. What?!? Not get each other gifts? But this is probably because that, as a woman, I am the partner in the marriage who most enjoys my spouse thinking about what I would like and searching valiantly until he finds the desired item and then proudly bringing it back to me to present it for my approval. But the more I thought this over, I realized that Mirek was probably right. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about love, it’s to be a celebration of how much my husband and I appreciate being a part of one another’s lives.
To be so selfish about the holiday ends up ruining it for both of us. First, my husband is automatically at a loss because the expectations placed on him are so high, no matter how much he strives he will never quite reach them. Blame this on today’s romantic comedy genre, or romance novels, or even Jane Austen. Wherever the blame lies, fictional romance has led many women to believe that our husbands are supposed to exist at a level of passion and creativity that just isn’t sustainable for the average male.
Before I continue, let me fend off the zealous female out there who is arguing, “But my husband is just like those movies! He is amazing and romantic and creative every day! Our passion is overflowing for one another. I dare Danielle Steel to create a fictional man who can compare to my reality!” Congratulations to you. You found the one man on earth who can measure up to women’s puffed up, superfluous expectations. You now have permission to stop reading.
For the rest of us, the second person we end up ruining Valentine’s Day for is: ourselves. This is because our anticipations are so high, that after our husbands fail at jumping through the hoops and running through the obstacle courses that we have set up for them- and this being blindfolded because we want them to know what we want and need without having to ask- we weep and wail and wrench our hands at our disappointing reality.
Let’s give up the game! Join Mirek, as well as my husband and I, in celebrating Valentine’s Day for what it is meant to be: a celebration of love. Go on strike against the commercialism, the overindulgence, and the obvious traps we have set up for ourselves and start a new tradition. One where you can actually enjoy Valentine’s Day.