It started as soon as the Christmas decorations came down. Valentines and those heart-shaped boxes of chocolates appeared in stores, and ads for jewelry began running on TV. The pressure of Valentines Day has begun.
If you are partnered, you’re supposed to make a big deal of February 14. If you’re happily (or unhappily) single, you’re not off the hook. There are cards to send to your parents and siblings and best friend and even your dog. There’s no way around it A hallmark holiday is once again forced upon us.
Make no mistake — Valentine’s Day is big business. According to CNN, Valentine’s Day sales will reach $18.6 billion this year. People will spend an average of $130.97 per person. 145 million Valentine cards will be sold. $4.4 billion will be spent on diamonds, gold and silver. It’s easy to see why so many people feel the pressure of Valentines Day.
Yes. It’s wonderful to have one day a year set aside to celebrate love, to do something special for those we most cherish. But what’s good for the cash registers in cards, candy and gift stores isn’t necessarily good for a relationship. How can you and your sweetheart get through February 14 with your wallet and your relationship intact?
1. Make sure you are on the same page about what you expect.
We are as happy or as disappointed as our reality matches our expectations. If she expects jewelry and he turns up with a box of chocolates, she’ll feel let down. Ditto if he expects she’ll make a fancy dinner and she suggests takeout.
Furthermore, surprises aren’t always as successful as we’d like them to be. If he shows up with diamonds when she thinks they are only at the card stage, both will be embarrassed and uncomfortable. It’s equally true if she puts on a fancy dinner and he shows up in sweatpants and without having shaved.
To prevent any disappointments, have a clear conversation ahead of time about what you would both feel is appropriate to honor the day.
2. Match your expectations to the stage of the relationship.
The card companies and the jewelry stores would like us all to do the day up big. But a relationship that has just begun is different than a relationship that is in full bloom, and that is different than longtime married love. Please go back to no. 1. Do you both have the same idea of how the stage of your relationship should be celebrated?
3. Match your expectations to your budget.
Love isn’t measured in dollars. It’s measured in thoughtfulness, tenderness, and a bit of romance. f you both want a big, expensive night on the town and can afford it, well, why not? But if either one of you would find that embarrassing, wasteful, or overwhelming, maybe you should rethink the idea.
4. Don’t expect your partner to be different just because it is Valentine’s Day.
Shows like The Bachelor and store displays seem to imply that everyone believes that romance means hearts and flowers and mushy romance on February 14.
Some people simply aren’t romantic that way. Some people even manage to forget, despite all the store displays, that February 14 is Valentine’s Day.
5. Don’t, don’t, don’t propose on Valentine’s Day unless you are absolutely sure of a “yes.”
If you get a “no,” or even an “I’ll think about it,” every Valentine’s Day for the rest of your life will be clouded by the memory of hurt and disappointment. (Have I mentioned that you should go back to no. 1?)
6. Focus on the love, not the “shoulds” that are in the cultural atmosphere.
There are lots of ways that people show their love. Some people are creative and capable of flamboyant surprises. Others are quieter and express their affection in simpler ways. There’s no right way to observe Valentine’s Day. There’s no right way to show love. Back to no. 1.
What matters on February 14, and indeed every day of your relationship, is that you feel loved, respected, cherished and cared about. So talk it over with your beloved. Make something happen – together – that is as personal and loving as your relationship.
Happy Valentine’s Day.