Valentine’s Disaster: How Valentine’s Day can harm your marriage

Jay Dee

Valentine’s Disaster: How Valentine’s Day can harm your marriage

Feb 14, 2014

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

Valentines Disaster - How valentines day can harm your marriageI 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:

  1. Had a very involved discussion about what you want and how you want it
  2. 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. 

Your Turn

What are your thoughts on Valentine’s Day?

Looking for help?

10 thoughts on “Valentine’s Disaster: How Valentine’s Day can harm your marriage”

  1. FarAboveRubies says:

    I have a totally different approach to Valentine’s Day. I will share here so perhaps to toss out some ideas. I’m a planner. I’ve planned for things to happen all my life, this includes my married life. If I wanted something to happen on Valentine’s Day, it was going to be me planning it out. My hubby hates planning, which is good because I’m the creative one.

    When reading this article, Jay, I noticed that our marriage has the basics that you mentioned as important (to be loved, to be faithful, and to help to raise the children), check, check, and check. We don’t buy each other expensive gifts. I find doing that repulsive. We don’t even go out to eat. That happens once a year on our anniversary. He tells me that my home cooking is so good that going out to eat always pales compared to home. That blesses me. Why BUY flowers? During the summer, my hubby will take me on the 4-wheeler on a date to the back forty. That’s where he’ll pick flowers for me. Those are the most beautiful ones to me. I hope you see where this is going.

    I am the planner. On Valentine’s Day morning I will give my hubby an invite card. In the card will be a hint of things that will be waiting for him that night. That card is important because he gets to think about it all day long. I invite him to far off lands and yet we never leave the bedroom. I am a SAHM. I have the opportunity to decorate the bedroom in different decors. One time, I took him to a Hawaiian luau. It took me three months to learn to hula dance to the Sweet Leilani. I had in on VHS. I wore out the video playing it so much. Our kids were 3 and 5 years old at the time. They also learned to hula too. It was hard to keep my practice from them. It was “our little secret” from Daddy. They actually kept it a secret from him. The room was decorated in a Hawaiian theme. I had a real grass skirt and coconuts. The song played in the background while I danced for him. It really blessed him. We may never make it to Hawaii, but I took him there one night. One time we went to Mardi Gras. I was all dolled up. We both wore our masks. I had given him a bucket of beads. He went through them quickly. Another time, I took him back to the thirties. I became Sally Rand (the fan dancer). YouTube her. It was so perfect because our rental house was empty at the time. I invested in big white body fans. I learned to dance with the fans by watching her over and over on VHS. It was another worn out VHS tape. I had the space to dance with those big fans. That year the invite had a feather on it. I had him guessing all day. It was very memorable. I can use the body fans again and again, but the first time was a big surprise.
    This year I’m taking him to Daytona Beach. I gave him his invite already. I’ll be preparing the bedroom shortly. If you want more ideas, just ask me. I have 25 themes already. I already have next year’s theme planned…hello far off land. I will become his Arabian belly dancer. I have the outfit already. I have tried to learn this one before but it’s a hard one. You actually have to isolate certain body parts while other ones move. It’s tough but I’ll try again. Maybe by next year I’ll have it down pat.

    I hope I have given other women some ideas. Valentine’s Day has always been about how I can bless him, not how he can bless me. Just trust me, the rewards are huge. It’s always fun.

    1. belovedalways says:

      I’m interested in the names of both of the videos you used. You have a great idea although I’d like incorporate the ‘far-off-land’ bedroom ideas into maybe once a month fun. I too am a planner and while some ideas may take more time to do as there are things to learn, I think I could work on one idea while doing another. And frankly…I don’t want to have to wait a year to be able to do this. It sounds SO fun!

      I’m all for using somebody else’s hard work. *wink* I’d LOVE your idea list, please!

  2. Robyn Gibson says:

    Excellent post J&C!! I completely agree. It is a difficult thing to unhook from the borg and re-learn God’s way – it is so opposite to what the world has shown us. For us, the bottom line is about: 1) all of our expectations are to be placed on God. 2) humans are frail, they’ll let you down. There is an excellent scene from the movie “Phenomenon” that captures what our attitude should be. George has shown up at Lacey’s house with a basket of his home-grown tomatoes. They are taking a walk and chatting, George obviously likes Lacey but she is reluctant. Lacey says, “Let me ask you something George, when a man comes over with a basket full of tomatoes what’s he expecting? Dinner?” I just love George’s reply, “Nah, nah, nah … ” (short pause with a boyish grin) “… just hoping.” I think that hope a is safer and more merciful bet for us humans then expectations. You can tell where you sit between hope and expectations by how your heart responds when you don’t get what you want.

    1. Dan says:

      SR- I like that you’re a warrior with a romantic side.

      We do a Valentine dinner for the lost and unchurched at our church every year. We are there from about 6pm to 10:30pm every Valentine’s day. We don’t “hope” for much personally as a result, but exercise a higher hope on that day which is consolation in its own way.

  3. Bonnie @ Love, Marriage and Sex says:

    Such hostility towards V-day JD! I do understand what you’re saying here, and for many couples, I think you are probably correct. For my husband and myself, we actually really enjoy Valentine’s Day. Not for the gifts–we rarely spend more than $20 on each other, but just as a kind of planned day to go out of our way to dote on each other. It’s not that this is the only day this happens, but our “expectation” is that we will go out of the way to do something special. And the sexual expectation is not an issue at this time in our marriage (although it was very much so in the past). We both get sex whenever we want it, so if one of us expects it on Valentine’s Day, we initiate it and the other willingly obliges.

    This year, I took a nude pic of myself (from behind, no naughty bits showing), photoshopped it to look like it was pencil sketched with the words “I love you forever” overlaid on the pic, then printed it and put it in a large frame with a matting and wrote the words to our song on the matting. He loved it and it cost me like $16 for the frame. He didn’t have any money this year so he just got me a card with a sweet message and a small 4 piece box of chocolates. I didn’t mind at all not getting a gift, but I was happy that he thought of me to buy and write in a card. I think how you should handle the holiday has more to do with the individual dynamics of your marriage than anything else. For one couple it may be damaging, for another it may be uplifting and intimate.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Oh, I agree, for a lot of couples, it can be a wonderful day, not arguing. But, it can be a disaster in certain circumstances, marriages and mindsets.

  4. Yuliya says:

    I really enjoyed your post! There are so many points I hadn’t realised were even problems. My husband and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. Our anniversary is exactly one week later, and we celebrate that by going out to dinner. I think as our son gets older, I may do a few Valentine’s themed crafts with him, or some Valentine’s themed food. But Valentine’s has never really been a problem for us. Expectations in general, well… we can always work on communicating those better.

    Thanks for your insight!

  5. Loving being a Wife says:

    I love Valentines Day too; we buy something small up to $20.00 and the fun of giving to each other is so nice!

  6. Spiritwalker142 says:

    Ok, I have little different take on Valentine’s Day. It’s our anniversary. Now before you say how romantic, and we thought we were being romantic when we chose the date, the only real good thing about it is I’ll never forget our anniversary. Think about it, when we’re trying to do something special for our anniversary, the more important part of the day, everyone and their dog is trying to do something special for Valentine’s Day. Everything is booked, everything is twice as expensive, and everything outside out home is a bit chaotic. Not many anniversary cars on the shelve either. We stay home and enjoy each other’s company. We’ve even had a few Vanities’/Anniversary parties and invited other couples over so that they wouldn’t have to put up with some of the hassles either. We usually do our anniversary thing the week end after Vanities’ Day. It is nice day to get engaged though.
    –Now I’m not really down on the valentine’s stuff but I do see Jay’s points. I ran into most of those exact problems with my first wife. I’m glad my wife now and I see things closer to eye-to-eye. I try to keep that valentine’s feeling going all year long. I frequently buy my wife flowers, get her little gifts, and cards year round. And guys, FLOWERS DON”T NEED TO BE EXSPENSIVE, my wife loves the ones from Kroger. Not expensive but pretty and they let her know that I think about her and that she is special. Simple cards too, romantic or funny either work for my wife.

Share your thoughts

Becoming More Sexually Engaged - For Christian Wives Course - Cohort starting this Sunday