I write about marriage and sexual intimacy, which means that when Valentine’s Day rolls around, I should be encouraging all that lovey-dovey stuff, right? Yet my marriage is in the camp of those who really don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, except for maybe a greeting card and an extra kiss.
Truth is, I’m not very excited about any of the holidays that involve gifting. Maybe that’s because gift-giving is #5 on my list of the 5 Love Languages. But in my case, that’s okay — because it’s #5 on my husband’s list too.
For many of you, that is not the case.
Sometimes both spouses are right there on the same page about holidays and gift-giving, but oftentimes we’re not. You may not care about this holiday and yet be married to someone who believes that Valentine’s should be properly hailed with professions of undying love, greeting cards and flowers, gifts the size of ring boxes, and a romantic dinner for two.
It’s a big deal to some people. Valentine’s Day spending is predicted to reach a record $18.9 billion — that’s right, billion — this year. And the average amount spent for a significant other is $128.90 for men buying and $62.47 for women buying. Yes, this means we ladies clean up compared to you guys, but isn’t your wife worth the extra $60? (Say yes.) By the way, that doesn’t count the dining bill.
Isn’t that a lot of money? A lot of pressure?
What if you spend that $62 or $128 and your spouse isn’t thrilled with the day? Do you expect major points for effort? Do you at least think you should get sex on Valentine’s Day?
Let’s back up here and talk about how to take some of the pressure off this actually-very-sweet holiday. After all, who isn’t in favor of flowers, chocolate, and love?
Mutual understanding. You should talk with your husband or wife and find out how they view this holiday. Is it a big deal to them? Would they rather avoid it? Communicate about your desires and look for areas of agreement.
Although this is one area in which if it’s no big deal to you but really matters to your spouse, make an effort anyway. Gift-giving might be #1 on their Love Language list, and you don’t want to miss an opportunity to shower your spouse with the love and affection they long for. You would appreciate if they did the same for you in an area you care about.
Realistic Expectations. If you’re not a millionaire, you cannot purchase dozens of roses, hire the limousine, go out to a five-star restaurant, exchange fine jewelry, and stay overnight at a luxury hotel. And you shouldn’t expect that from your spouse. Likewise, if your husband is not an emotional millionaire, he will not suddenly become Romeo and Cyrano de Bergerac molded into one and sweep you off your feet with a romantic adventure worthy of the history books. He may not even remember which chocolates you like.
Remember this is a day about expressing love. Not reaching some unattainable romantic goal. You chose this person with all of their blessed quirks, and you love each other. Set your expectations according to the couple you are. If she isn’t a domestic diva, don’t expect the perfect candlelight dinner. If he isn’t a brilliant poet, don’t expect him to cite a sonnet. If she isn’t… Well, you get the point.
Line up your expectations according to your strengths. Don’t simply celebrate love on Valentine’s — celebrate each other.Don't simply celebrate love on Valentine's — celebrate each other. Click To Tweet
Don’t keep score. Here are three ways we keep score on Valentine’s Day:
- We compare how we did to how our spouse did.
- We compare how our spouse did compared to prior Valentine’s Days.
- We compare how our spouse did to what we hear other spouses did.
And all of those comparisons are likely to lead to disappointment and resentment. Valentine’s Day performance shouldn’t be reviewed like you’re a love critic.
You’ll always find someone who did better, even your own spouse in a previous year. I could search YouTube right now and find Valentine’s Day videos that would make you wish your husband was as thoughtful as that guy or as sensuous as that woman. So what? You don’t know their whole story.
Besides, marriage isn’t about keeping score. Not on Valentine’s or any other day. Instead, adopt an attitude of gratitude for the spouse you have and the covenant you share. You want to keep score? Count how many generous things you can do for your spouse today. And then do it again tomorrow. That’s a more winning approach.
Take the long-term view. It’s a day. One day. Whether you nail it or blow it, your marriage is not comprised of a single day. It’s a blessing we long-married couples have — with all these days spent together, very few stand out alone. Rather, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That is, our marriage exists as an entire thing, not judged by any one day but by our perseverance, selflessness, and love in action.
We build our relationship day by day, but a single bad day — even Valentine’s — won’t kill it. And a single fabulous day — even Valentine’s — won’t rescue a failing marriage. We must take the long-term view and foster intimacy each and every day. Forgiving each other for the days that don’t go well, celebrating the ones that do, and praying God will infuse us with His love to spill over to our spouse.
Is Valentine’s Day too much pressure in your marriage? Maybe. But with some intentionality, you can ease some of that pressure and enjoy February 14 . . . and every other day in your blessed marriage.