I’m biased. I recognize it. Growing up in the home of an elementary school teacher, I was trained to dislike Valentine’s Day. Can you imagine a worse day to be a teacher (maybe Field Day)? In many schools on Valentine’s Day, parents send massively large, yet cheap, gifts to their child at school. The office is filled with balloons, stuffed bears, a variety of other gifts which staff and teachers have to deal with all day and somehow make sure the students make it home with when the day is over. It’s a nightmare. (See: Happy Valentine’s Day, You’re Not My Soul-Mate)
The experience for an elementary school teacher often mimics the Valentine’s Day for many couples. A day set aside to celebrate love can actually hinder it. It’s not unusual for couples to have a fight on the day of love. Fact is, many couples do not do Valentine’s Day right. They have expectations, make assumptions, exhibit no intention, and then wonder why the day has gone wrong.
5 Ways Couples Do Valentine’s Day Wrong
1. Assume your spouse knows exactly how to celebrate the day. Unexpressed assumptions can do more to damage a celebration than anything else. Too many couples believe their spouse should just know how to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Assuming without communicating guarantees failure. With different backgrounds, different desires, and different expectations, it is vital that a husband and wife verbalize what makes a good day in their opinion. Without the conversation, your spouse has little chance of success.
2. Try to buy your way out of trouble. One good day cannot undo 364 bad days. When a marriage is struggling or a spouse has spent too little time investing in the marriage, they often try to make it up with one dramatic act. It’s a waste of money and can often do more harm than good. If your relationship needs work, make your gift to your spouse a transparent conversation where you confess your failures and then make concrete changes to prove your heart via actions and not just words.
3. Ignore it when she (or he) loves it. Some couples can pretend like February 14 is just another day. They might exchange kind words, have a family dinner, and not do anything noticeably different from any other day. However, if the celebration is important to your spouse, you better make it important to you. Some can ignore the day, but for other individuals it’s important to have flowers, a nice meal, gifts, etc. Neither are right or wrong, but you better know which one is your spouse’s belief and then act accordingly. Love submits to the object of its desire. Couples must navigate a good balance of how they both would like to celebrate the day. (See: The Single Life and Valentine’s Day)
4. Put too much stock into one day. Disappointments happen. Kids get sick. The day sneaks up on us. Our good intentions aren’t realized. While it’s okay to be disappointed, putting too much stock into one day is a sign of a deeper problem. When a day gone wrong causes a week’s worth of hurt feelings, other issues are at play. For many couples, big fights on Valentine’s Day occur because issues have built up for months. When the day goes wrong, the pent-up anger is unleashed. If you can have a bad celebration and it doesn’t greatly influence the marriage in a negative way, the relationship is likely healthy.
5. Spend beyond your means. There is only one basic rule regarding the right amount of money to spend on Valentine’s Day–only spend what you can afford. One couple could spend thousands of dollars and it be appropriate while another could spend $10 and it be too much. The question is, what can you afford? To spend money on one night which could cause strain in your marriage for a whole month would be foolishness. Know your budget and don’t blow it.
3 Questions for a Better Valentine’s Day
Thankfully, it’s not to late to have a good celebration this week. As a couple, consider the following questions and have a great Valentine’s Day.
1. What do you want to do? Ask your spouse. Listen to what they say. Tell them what you desire. Some believe this hurts the romance of the day, but “some” are wrong. What hurts the romance is getting it completely wrong. Having a good conversation and celebrating accordingly will make the day great. (See a funny take: How to Buy a Gift for Valentine’s Day)
2. What do you want to receive? Different people enjoy different gifts. Some women love receiving flowers, my wife thinks they are a waste of money unless she can plant them. Find out what would speak most to your spouse and give accordingly.
3. When do you want to celebrate? For some, the specific day matters. They can’t imagine not celebrating Valentine’s Day on February 14. For others, the specific date doesn’t matter. Knowing what your spouse believes can mean everything. If the date doesn’t matter, celebrating on the 15th is a great way to get good reservations, cheap gifts, and an easy date. But don’t attempt the 15th if your spouse cares about the 14th.
Regarding Valentine’s Day, I’m the last guy you need to mimic. While this article is good advice, how Jenny and I celebrate the day is not recommended for most couples. She thinks it’s a waste of money for me to buy her flowers, jewelry, or chocolates. And she doesn’t care about the specific date of anything. We will celebrate a few days later in a very laid back way. I wouldn’t recommend following our method unless you are certain your spouse is completely on board.