Do You Have to Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

In two weeks, it’s St. Valentine’s Day — a holiday celebrating romantic love. Given what I write about, this should be my wheelhouse. I should be excitedly touting the beauty of romantic gestures, sex-themed gifts, and marital bliss. And I have. You can find those posts here:

What to Get Your Husband for V-Day

13 Sexy Valentine’s Gifts from Your Grocery Store

7 Sexy Valentine’s Gifts You Can Make

“Go Big” Valentine’s Gifts for Your Spouse

8 Cool Valentine’s Gifts for Your Hot Hubby

8 Sweet Valentine’s Gifts for Your Spicy Wife

Marriage Not Going Great? Go Ahead and Celebrate Valentine’s

7 Things You Should Say to Your Spouse on Valentine’s Day

But I’ve also written about my own view of Valentine’s Day:

Valentine’s Day for the Rest of Us

What I really want:

What I Really Want for Valentine’s Day (Maybe You Do Too)

What men want:

Does He Just Want Sex for Valentine’s Day?

And my belief that we can make this holiday carry more weight than it should:

Is Valentine’s Day Too Much Pressure?

Some of you are like me: You have a billion things going on in your life, and the thought of stopping all that for something extra-special for a holiday designated by other people seems like another to-do you don’t need on your list. Besides, you frankly couldn’t tell anyone just who St. Valentine was anyway or what that cupid baby has to do with anything. (Seriously, little arrow-toting dude, put on some clothes.)

So here’s a question: Do you have to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Is it in the marriage contract somewhere? Does the fact that you are a couple mean you that must do something for this event? Would you be remiss if you breezed through February 14 not giving flowers or candy to your beloved and not even wearing the color red?

Do You Have to Celebrate Valentine's Day with finger puppet man and woman

It depends.

On your spouse.

If this day is important to him or her, reconfigure that to-do list and make Valentine’s Day a priority.

But don’t assume. Because in an interesting conversation with some wives lately, I discovered that most of us didn’t care for a big to-do for Valentine’s Day. We wanted subtler gestures of romance — a quiet evening at home, a single flower, a greeting card, an extended time of physical intimacy, a whispered, “I love you. Happy Valentine’s.”

My husband and I tend to trade greeting cards and a long kiss … and that’s it — what constitutes the entire Valentine’s celebration in my marriage. Which both of us are happy with. We personally prefer to go out for a date on a night on which the restaurants aren’t so crowded or to exchange gifts on a day personally significant to us, like our anniversary.

But if I were a flowers, candy, or jewelry person, my husband should oblige, considering and cherishing the wife he married. Likewise, if my husband considered a proper Valentine’s celebration involved extra-sexy sex, I should oblige, considering and honoring the man I married. It’s simply biblical love to seek the other’s good and to show kindness.

I could write another post about what you can do for Valentine’s Day, but I’ve already written a bunch and it’s all a waste anyway if you don’t know what your own spouse desires and enjoys. So have a conversation and see what they think about this holiday.

While you’re at it, maybe talk about other holidays too. My husband and I evaluated our Christmas experience and decided to make some changes next year, and we’ll be talking soon about how to spend our anniversary, making sure our expectations are reasonably met.

If your spouse does want a bigger to-do, I have all of those resources up there you can consult for gift and activity ideas. Plenty of other marriage websites have ideas as well. And I’m sure your local retailer would love to walk you through some possibilities.

But you might be surprised to find out that you don’t have to do quite as much. Many couples are content to take it easy on this holiday of love and find small ways to celebrate.

That said, never ignore an opportunity in your marriage, whatever the day, to express love to your mate. Make that an ongoing goal.

Reminder: Valentine’s Day is special in that we are launching our podcast that day. Click on the banner below to head to our website and learn more. And mark your calendar to listen that week!

20 thoughts on “Do You Have to Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

  1. Nick Peters

    I take this day very seriously now. After several yeas of hating Singles’ Awareness Day, now I have someone to celebrate it with and I delight in it. Yep. I want sex for Valentine’s Day, but I’m also a romantic. I want to see my wife go all out for me that day. In turn, I do the same for her. I already ordered her gift this month. In fact, if you must know I went and ordered her *Takes a long long drink from this water bottle* and I’m sure you know she is going to appreciate THAT gift!

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

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  2. Ks

    Ok, so I do my part. My husband hates Valentine’s Day and refuses to do anything. I oblige him and do and expect nothing. However, I have always looked forward to finally having someone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with, but he won’t oblige me.

    It has been nearly 2 decades, though, so I have given up hope and just look forward to clearance chocolate the week after.

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  3. Alicia

    I’m one of the women in the minority who doesn’t put a lot of stock in Valentine’s Day. Interestingly enough I’ve dated men who see it as a bigger deal than I do. My husband feels the same way about it as me. If we didn’t, I know he would do something for me, or I for him. Sometimes we’ll do something small: he knows I love the various Reese’s peanut-butter holiday shapes, so sometimes he’ll get me some Reese’s hearts, or I’ll do something small for him. But over all we’d rather put our focus into showing each other our love on a more daily basis, not on a day when most feel obligated to do something. He’s taken crap before from other men or women, when someone will ask one of us what he did for me for the day, and we either site the Reese’s hearts, or some years, nothing. People seem to expect me to be all angry about this, but I’m not. I’m actually the first to defend him when he gets this nonsense from other people. But then, I’m not much a flowers kind of woman in general.

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    1. J Post author

      Yeah, that’s the weirdest thing: How some people will act like there must be something wrong with your relationship if you’re not going all out. I had a friend who was astounded, and somewhat horrified, that one year I chose to have surgery on February 14. “But what about Valentine’s Day? How can you do that to your husband? What about yourself?” I said, “This is our gift. I need this surgery, and I’ll feel better afterward.” Lol. It was a great Valentine’s!

      Reply
  4. Loved

    I wonder if many men assume they’re going to get ‘it’ wrong, so they do nothing? They fear the planning and execution on their part still won’t live up to her expectations. It definitely comes down to talking about each others dream Valentine’s or anniversary, etc. and finding ways to make it happen, within reason of course. We are going away for a weekend with another couple. The guys are in charge of planning the details with my husband taking the lead, because my friend’s husband struggles with that. The guys are all on board with the idea of a sexcation!!!

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    1. J Post author

      Sexcation! Maybe that’s how we should sell it. 😉

      Your idea sounds lovely. Hope it’s a great weekend! Enjoy.

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  5. B

    * sigh * Trying not to care. I love my husband. I’m trying to believe that he loves me. I think he does. At least a little. He says it enough. I wish he’d show it more, but for now I’m trying to learn to be happy with the fact that he says it, even if he doesn’t see me as worth the effort of showing it.

    I hate holidays. It’s a constant reminder of how unworthy or undeserving of love I am for whatever reason. (I know God loves me and I need to learn to rest in His love and have that be enough, I get it…) But selfishly, once in a while, I’d love to be shown love by my husband in a way that is tangible. You can say it all day long, but unless you show it, do the words really mean anything?

    My husband will often give me a greeting card. Worst. Thing. Ever. He knows I hate greeting cards. But his mom, LOVES greeting cards – that’s great, buy one for her! But I’m not your mom. To me, a greeting card is a waste of four dollars for a bunch of flowery, insincere words, written by someone else, and are meaningless. I would MUCH rather have him write “Baby I love you more than my truck” on a post it note. Sincerely.

    Here’s what hurts even worse. I used to work with a man who had an awful wife. She was cold to him, she’d come to the office and yell at him and say awful things in front of his coworkers. And you know what? He loved her so much he’d take her flowers every weekend. For whatever reason, she was very worthy of love.

    Things I’d love would be – flowers for no reason – lingerie that would show me he actually thinks I’m attractive enough to deserve to wear it (but from a past incident I know he doesn’t think I deserve to wear lingerie no matter what he says, so that’s out) – a night away somewhere, doesn’t have to be fancy, just so we could be alone. But that will never happen either. If I planned it he’d probably go, but he would never see me as worth the effort of him making the plans. I’ve even gone beyond hinting and told him about a nice, affordable place I’d love to go to – close to home, inexpensive. He will say “that looks nice, I’d like to take you there.” But have we ever gone? Nope! I don’t expect we ever will. Empty words.

    @Loved, you are so, so, so, blessed! I’d be thrilled if my screen name could even be “KindaLiked”. The idea of a sexcation sounds AMAZING! I am so happy for you and yes, kinda envious. I would love to know what it’s like to be seen worthy of such a thing by my own husband. A girl can dream…

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    1. J Post author

      I laughed at “Baby I love you more than my truck.” That would indeed be a declaration of love for many husbands! (Hey, I live in Texas — I get it.)

      But it sounds like y’all might be mismatched with love languages. You might want time and gifts, while he’s giving lots of words of affirmation? I know the whole “actions speak louder than words,” but words oftentimes are an action; we certainly remember exactly what someone said to us that one time, don’t we? And, once again, your comparison of an “awful wife” being so loved her husband gave her flowers? Maybe he was doing that to appease her, or because that was his rote way of getting back into her good graces, or for a myriad of other reasons we don’t know. You are reading that situation favorably and your own unfavorably, when I just don’t see it that way.

      It sounds like your husband is trying, but you’re just crossing lines. I personally get better results if I’m direct, like: “I would love for you to pick out some lingerie you’d like to see me in. My size is ____, and the best places to shop for something like that are ____, ____, and ____. Please don’t get me anything that has ____, but other than that, just choose something you like.” Or “I would really like some flowers this Valentine’s. Could you buy me a bouquet that makes you think of me? That would mean a lot.” I’m not saying it will be exactly what you’d pick for yourself, or even what you really want, but you’ll get a lot closer.

      Reply
      1. E

        I was reading Bs comment thinking about replying with something about Love Languages, but you are on to it, J!

        B, if you learn his Love Language, not only can you bless him more by showing him love in a way he understands, but you can also start to feel loved when you recognise him showing you love in his primary ‘language’. I’m not really a ‘gifts’ person, but hubby is, and it is cute how stressed he gets trying to find the ‘perfect’ birthday gift! At the end of the day, the gift isn’t as important to me (as a love language) than a massage, or a card thanking me for being awesome :-D, but I can now (with practice!) appreciate how much he is loving me, his way.

        Also, you might need to spell it out for him. My hubby hates ‘words of affirmation’, but that’s what I run on, and there’s been times where I’ve had to tell him that that is important to me. Just because he doesn’t do that automatically, and needs to be reminded in between, doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me!

        On an different note, B, I have been reading your comments for a few months now, and obviously you are unsatisfied with the current status quo of your marriage. What comes to mind when I read your comment above is Jesus’s tale of splinters and planks. You have previously said that your husband is a good man, a good husband, so maybe instead of focusing on his failures, you need to look at yourself. And I’m not talking about physical things you can’t change (eg shorter/curvier/blue eyes/whatever), but look at your heart. Believe the best of your husband. He is never ever going to be perfect, same way you aren’t! I know I certainly don’t meet all my husband’s expectations, even when I am really really trying!
        I really think that the best way to better your situation, B, is a heart/attitude change in you! After all, the only person you can change is you. And you will probably notice that when your attitude changes, so will your relationship with your husband.

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        1. B

          Hi E – I’m sorry if I give the impression that the problem is with my husband, or that I think he is flawed in some way. I know the problem is 99% me. I’m not dissatisfied with my marriage, I think I have things way, way better than I deserve.

          Hey J, sorry about this tangent. I think I’ll take the advice intended by this post and just tell my husband we are skipping Valentine’s Day all together this year, and from now on. I’m sure it will make him both relieved and happy.

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          1. J Post author

            Did you hear that, B? It’s the sound of my head slamming against my laptop, girlfriend. 😉 THAT is not the advice intended by this post. It’s to figure out together what works best for your marriage. And I’m not convinced that your husband doesn’t care about these things; moreover, you care about them, so I think he should. Will it look exactly like you want? If you have unreasonable expectations, no, it won’t. But you can find something to do for Valentine’s if you wish.

  6. B

    Yeah, I hear you, but it’s not about the “stuff”, or about getting “what I want” – I mean the actual gift wouldn’t matter all that much, as long as he put a little thought into it. It’s the fact that he likes to say he loves me, but doesn’t think I’m worth the extra effort it would take to show me he loves me. And yes we’ve talked about it, but he doesn’t like to talk about it. Ever.

    I could ask him to get me flowers, but how cheesy is that? In my mind that would be equivalent to begging for attention or to be loved, and that is quite pathetic. Love isn’t real if you have to beg for it. And if a gift or gesture doesn’t come from the heart, but from a sense of obligation or being “told” what to do – then it’s not something the giver actually wanted to do for you, but something you forced them to do – thus rendering it meaningless (not to mention a waste of money).

    And the lingerie thing, well, let’s not even go there. That’s just a topic that’s bound to cause conflict. After what I refer to as the “birthday fiasco of 2014” – I will no longer wear lingerie. That day he proved to me beyond the shadow of a doubt that he does not think I am attractive enough to deserve to wear lingerie. It used to upset me a lot. Now I try not to think of it, but at least it only upsets me a little. That day was a perfect example of actions speaking louder than words. Anyhow, I don’t even bring it up anymore. If he thought I was pretty enough to wear pretty things, he’d buy me something. Or at least encourage me to buy something – or encourage me to pull out something that he knows has been stuck in the back of the closet. But, he doesn’t, and so I’ve had to just learn to try not to care.

    All of that to say, I’m not gonna beg for gifts. I’ll get him something or do something nice for him like I always do, but I’ve learned to expect nothing.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      So you think I’m begging to tell my husband what I like? Isn’t that just helping him understand me?

      Or think of it like this: My husband and I have eaten at Pei Wei many times over. I’ve heard his order repeatedly and watched him eat his favorite dish. But when I ran by Pei Wei recently to grab some dinner for us to-go, I was faced with the menu and wondering which dish it was he got. I narrowed it down to two, thought I remembered which one, but wasn’t sure. I had to call him to make sure I got the order right. Now…if I loved him, wouldn’t I remember what he liked? Wouldn’t I know my beloved so well that I’d paid attention and had his seriously-we’ve-been-there-like-30-times order down pat? No! I love him enormously, and I had some idea, but I still needed to ask and he had to tell me for sure what he wanted.

      Why not treat the romance in your marriage a bit like a menu and order up what you like? It’s not cheesy.

      Reply
      1. B

        I think it’s more than okay to tell your husband what you like. And leave it at that. What I don’t want to do is ask him to do things for me once he already knows what I like. If he wants to do something for me, buy something for me, etc. – he will. If I have to ask, then he didn’t want to do it and it doesn’t mean much.

        So like in your example, if he called and said, “I’m stopping at Chick FIL A, want something” then I’m cool asking him for what I’d like. But if I were to call him up and be like “if you love me you’ll bring me lunch” – then that right there is what I’m against. If he wants to surprise me with lunch, awesome! If he doesn’t, I’m not going to beg him to do things he doesn’t want to do.

        On a brighter note, I read the post you linked above, and I’ll try. But knowing what I already know, it’s kind of hard to change an entire way of thinking. But I can try. Thanks for sharing the post.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          I get what you’re saying. But you know what? I totally do things like call my husband and playfully say, “You know…if you loved me, you’d bring me lunch.” Then he says, “Sure, sweetheart” or “Can’t today—got a meeting” or whatever. He does the same with me: “Hey, could you ___ today? I’d really appreciate that.” That’s among the most functional parts of our marriage, just checking in and communicating what we need/want. Of course, we don’t make actual ultimatums or love tests from these, but we do make requests and see if the other has the opportunity (and sometimes, just the short-term memory) to follow through.

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  7. John

    In 25 years, just once. I hated this day, with the fake cards and flowers. But i did it anyways because i do love her

    But now we are in a better place, and i am hoping for a romantic day. Plan to talk to her about it tonight, but regardless if she feels it or not, i am going all out. Got a book made at lovebookonline.com – made a 65 page book about how much I love her. Candy, flowers, the works. I hope its reciprocal, but like i said, I am doing it. O matter what.

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  8. E

    I think the point of Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be ‘what am I going to get?’, but instead be ‘what can I give/do for my spouse?’
    So much of modern western culture is about what we can get out of things, instead of what we can give. But we can change this, by seeing Valentine’s Day as a day to bless and honour our spouse in a special way, that suits them!
    And if you are on the receiving end of a gift that you don’t really like, be graceful in your acceptance, and appreciate the effort made.

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  9. working on it

    I appreciate this post! My husband hates holidays and gifts, but I like at least a handful of days in the year to be different (in a good way) from every other one (maybe its the stay at home mom in me). I was frustrated by his lack of attention to holidays – all holidays- for awhile, but finally realized we just didn’t understand each other, although the good will was there. Anyhow, long story short, I bluntly told him I like each holiday to be a little special, nothing expensive, but at least some recognition, even if that means we celebrate with a late night movie or a piece of chocolate or a game of cribbage. He is happy to oblige. He doesn’t remember easily, so he asked me to remind him, which I do. “Hey, what are your plans for Valentine’s day next week?” “I can’t believe I’m turning twenty eight on Tuesday!”, etc…. It has worked out really well, and while there occasional spontaneous stuff he does sure melts my heart a lot more, it still melts my heart to know he tries so hard and does things that are counterintuitive to his nature just because he knows it makes me happy. For my part, I’ve realized a game together is about all the gift he is going to like. Anything else makes him feel awkward. I don’t understand it, b it that’s just the way he is and I’m ok with it.

    Reply

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