I usually only post once a week, but this is a bonus post for those potentially walking into a Valentine’s Disaster, as I’m going to call it. I know, I know, I’m a marriage blogger, and I’m supposed to be writing a post about what to do for valentine’s day, or how wonderful it is, or how to show your spouse you appreciate them on this special day. But, in my opinion, this holiday is a disaster. There is so much more harm being done by it than good, and I think it promotes a lot more negative feelings than positive ones. Of course, this is part of a much larger discussion on expectations, but given the day, I thought I’d start here.
Spouses expect something on Valentine’s Day
Expectations are dangerous. Now, they aren’t always wrong. There are things you can and should expect in marriage:
- You should expect your spouse to love you
- You should expect your spouse to be faithful
- You should expect your spouse to help you raise the children, assuming you have them
However, the Valentine’s disaster has expectations that go beyond the normal acceptable ones:
- You should expect your spouse to buy you an extravagant present
- You should expect to have the perfect evening
- You should expect your spouse to know exactly what you want and how you want it
These sorts of expectations are fantasy, not reality, and as such, they can be extremely harmful to your relationship, and ultimately your life. Because, regardless of what your spouse does, they will likely not reach the perfect scenario or desire you have in your mind. Even if they do manage to achieve this pinnacle of Valentine’s Day expectation, the response is often “Well, good, that’s what you were supposed to do.” Hello Valentine’s Disaster. If you fail, you fail hard. If you succeed, meh.
It is so hard to not expect something on Valentine’s day, it’s kinda like another birthday or Christmas or something like that where it is a little special. I grew up celebrating these days and even Valentine’s was made a little special somehow. So it makes it very difficult for us as mature adults to break years of programming! In the past I did expect presents and for Jay to plan a nice evening and for it to go off without a hitch. I wanted him to be the leader and for him to want that for me and society has even made the perfect opportunity for him to do it! But we weren’t very good at communicating so I would have this super romantic idea in my head and not be able to tell him cause he was supposed to know. I had a lot of disappointing Valentine’s days in the past.
Spouses expect sex on Valentine’s Day
Expecting sex is a fairly advanced skill, I’ll have to post more on that another day (sorry, no time for a second bonus post today). For the majority of spouses who haven’t learned to do this properly, don’t do it. You’re going to get hurt. Expecting sex, when you are still tied to the outcome, and not getting it, is another Valentine’s Disaster, regardless of what your drive is. Valentine’s Day is so intricately tied to romance and sex, that not having any on this day, even if you don’t ask or initiate, is like getting rejected, hard.
I can’t wait to read Jay’s post about this. I have always thought that Valentine’s day would be the safest day to expect to have sex on. But if you are going to feel rejected because something happened beyond your control and it doesn’t work out, please don’t expect it then! There is a difference between expectations and hope. It’s a very fine line though, so be careful to be hopeful and not expecting.
Valentine’s Day is a no win situation for men
Another dynamic at play here is that Valentine’s Day creates a no-win situation for men attempting to maintain their leadership role in marriage. After all, you have to either buy your wife what she wants, or is expecting, or at least something extravagant, then you are a sucker who bowed to peer pressure. If you don’t, then you are looked down on as a miser, or unromantic, or perhaps you just don’t make enough money. All of these, of course, are bad to maintaining your attractiveness to your spouse and giving her a sense that you are providing for her, and make her look bad in her social circle. As well, all the things you are supposed to buy (jewelry, chocolates, flowers, especially flowers) have their prices raised through the roof. If you buy them, well, you are a sucker and not wise with your finances. If you don’t, well, we’re back to the paragraph above.
When I look back at our past, before we realized our “disorders” (I have ADHD, Jay is an Aspie) I had expectations of what was going to happen on certain days from the man that was supposed to be leading. But because of the ADHD I over romanticized everything, and I’m a perfectionist. This makes it very difficult for Jay to impress me with things he would do for me. I think also because of the social difficulties that being an aspie brings, Jay didn’t have a clue what all the fuss was about, or how much it meant to me or how big I had been dreaming.
A Valentine’s Disaster causes people to look for divorces
I’ve come across multiple studies (sorry, don’t have them at my finger tips) showing that internet searches for divorce lawyers go up significantly right around Valentine’s day. They start right before it with people anticipating that their spouse isn’t going to do it, and then afterwards for a few weeks as disappointed spouses fail to have their expectations met yet again. So, if you know your spouse will have expectations about this day, you better be careful.
If you are a spouse WITH expectations about today, then you should also be careful. Maybe lower your expectations, or just be hopeful that perhaps your spouse will have thought of something, but try not to be devastated if it doesn’t work out the way you had in your mind.
So, what’s the solution?
Both spouses need to recognize Valentine’s Day for what it is: a potential pitfall to be avoided. Buy something, don’t buy something.
Have sex, don’t have sex. Have sex if you are able, but if it doesn’t happen, don’t get upset. Do whatever you want, but don’t treat it like a special day unless you’ve:
- Had a very involved discussion about what you want and how you want it
- Budgeted for it in advance
Baring that, unless you get through the day without a single expectation, treat it like a normal day: be purposeful in remembering that your spouse loves you, that their meeting, or not meeting, Valentine’s propaganda is not an indication of their affection for you. This brainwashing goes deep. My wife even admits that there is a battle in her mind. One the one hand, she doesn’t want me to buy her flowers on Valentine’s day, because of the pricing, and that she would see it as me submitting to the worlds imposing guidelines on measuring if I love my wife or not. Not a good way to keep my integrity in her eyes. On the other hand “they’re flowers, and their pretty, and it’s Valentine’s Day…” So, I’ll be buying some other time when she isn’t expecting it, just about everyone will be slashing their prices to get rid of the excess stock before they die (the flowers, not everyone). And if anyone asks either of you about Valentine’s Day just tell them “I got exactly what I wanted!”
There is nothing wrong with having hope for something to be special about the day. But maybe you can try to be the one to make it special. You don’t have to put money towards it, or even a card or home made coupons or anything like that. I’m thinking a conversation about why you love your spouse, and reminisce about your wedding and see how far you’ve come in your marriage. Dinner can be a little special, sure, why not make your spouse’s favorite meal? If they aren’t expecting it, it’ll be a nice surprise. I know I failed in this part in the past. Try to go into today without expectations, also try to keep in mind how you could make your spouse feel important to you.
What are your thoughts on Valentine’s Day?