This weekend marks one of the three pillars of romantic relationships in mainstream American culture. It’s Valentine’s Day. If you believe the jewelry ads, and the flower ads, and the chocolate ads, February 14 is a critical day to get right. It’s also the easiest of the three, because the other two are your wife/girlfriend’s birthday and your anniversary. Those two are different, and nobody’s screaming on the radio to remind you of them!
(And yes, I just went with wife/girlfriend because that’s where the stereotype is.)
How important is it? Let’s consider how much a dead flower is worth. Any given day, it’s worth next to nothing because it’s dead. However, given as a romantic gesture, it’s worth a bit more. But the cost of those flowers? It will double, nay triple, by the magical date. It’s a bit insane. I am not an unromantic soul, despite what you may have heard from a few select individuals. Here are a few suggestions, though, amidst the madness.
First, remember that a relationship is about multiple days, not one big DAY. True, there are days that are more important than others. Married folks, celebrating the moving of years is important at your anniversary. Noting the grace of another year of life at birthdays, great. Celebrating romance? Not a bad thing.
Make those days elevated towers of celebration, rather than the pillars on which your relationship is built. Putting the pressure of an entire relationship on your Valentine’s Day plans will cause a breakdown. Let it be great if it works, and be a fun memory if it doesn’t.
Second, remember that your relationship is about you two, not everyone else. Seriously: how much debt and stress comes from trying to outdo someone else? Too much. It also leads to doing things that neither of you enjoys just so you can show off what you did.
Focus on what the two of you enjoy, not what will compete in the next day’s discussion.
Third, remember that your attentive time is a precious gift. Give it. If the fancy-schmancy-dinner plan requires you to work right up to it, then watch your phone the whole time, and be distracted, then maybe Pizza Hut was a better idea. This is why even couples who work together need to spend time that is not work-related. Don’t be silly, parents, and claim you are not going to talk about the kids. You just need to not focus on them. Especially those couples who have one at-home/primary caregiver and one not. It’s not the time to catch up on what you should be keeping up with about your parental responsibilities. But a few kid stories shouldn’t kill the evening.
Give your full attention to the time you have.
A word is necessary here about receiving gifts and plans at romantic times. It will take some pre-day communication to establish what you are both after out of the day. And for the love bacon, do not couch this as an attempt to cheap-out, skip the “artificial” holiday, or any other self-serving excuses. Let it be a decision, together, to shift the focus. That may mean you have to remember a few romantic flourishes through the year. That’s not a bad idea, anyway…