It usually seems to me that the Christmas decorations have barely made it to the clearance shelves when the Valentine’s candy and gift displays are out in full force. I hear people grumbling (OK, I hear my husband grumbling) “Didn’t we just do this whole gift thing?” I always wonder this time of year if Valentine’s Day is truly the perfect day to express our affections or if the grumblers are right and it’s just another way for stores to pressure us into spending money.
I’m a huge fan of expressing affection. The couples guru John Gottman uses the phrase “small things often” to describe a mindset of regularly showing fondness and attention to your partner. This can look like ‘real’ kisses hello and good-bye, making eye contact and showing interest when your sweetie is talking, snuggling while you watch your favorite show together, surprising your honey by packing her lunch, or a funny text in the middle of the day just to say I’m thinking of you. These are all simple ways to maintain connection and a general positive tone in the relationship. And they are important the other 364 days of the year,too.
So what is all the fuss about Valentine’s Day? I have a few theories. Life is so incredibly busy for many people, and it can be easy to forget the “small things often” until something like February 14th shows up on the calendar. Since you genuinely want to make your honey feel special, it seems like a good day to show it. Another thing I’ve noticed is that social media bombards us with grand demonstrations of love and adds pressure to make sure our own attempts don’t look half-hearted. The downside is that if you don’t have the time or talent to create the 10-foot heart made of tiny origami hearts that you saw on Pinterest, then why bother?
So should we all be rushing out to buy cards and flowers, or is Valentine’s just a waste of money? The answer to that question lies with your beloved. An honest discussion starting with “How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?” might give you some valuable information. If your sweetheart melts for heart-shaped everything, then a way to honor that is with an effort to make Valentine’s Day special. If your love would rather have you surprise him by randomly sneaking his car away to fill it up with gas, then maybe a heart-shaped box of chocolates would miss the mark.
Which camp are you in?