It’s coming! Valentine’s Day is coming. And this year, I’m going to be prepared. And so are you. I am lucky enough to have a husband who has knocked it out of the park for Valentine’s Day much more often than not, but it hasn’t been easy for him being married to someone with Very Definite Opinions about so very many things. Here are some truths I have discerned about Valentine’s Day.
1. “I am above Valentine’s Day and refuse to care whether my husband does anything that day or not” = a big fat lie.
You may disagree with the whole idea of Valentine’s Day, you may be secure enough in yourself and your relationship not to need such observances, but if you’ve ever been a bit disappointed by V-day, then you might as well admit you care. And you’re not alone. Everyone cares. And the instant you’ve admitted it to yourself, admit it to your man. I thought I didn’t care about that stuff, but it turns out I do.
2. Pretending not to care fosters resentment.
We have a long and inglorious history of saying, “Oh, it’s V-day, Anniversary, birthday tomorrow/today, um, let’s celebrate it tomorrow/this weekend/next weekend so we can plan for it.” Or “I made reservations, but I’m so tired, maybe we can just stay home tonight and go out next week.” The problem is that it is even easier to cancel Fake Valentine’s Day than it is to postpone real Valentine’s Day. And besides, maybe I was only saying, “Okay, I’m tired, too” because I don’t want to make a big deal out of it–and I’m morally superior to women who need to make a big deal out of stupid romantic holidays–when on the inside, I’m really feeling, “Not fair.”
3. Valentine’s Day is not a family holiday.
The kids do the treat and card exchange at school. Dads, you may want to buy your daughters flowers. Making heart shaped cookies on a play date and giving treats to your family friends is great. Do that. But Valentine’s Day is a romantic holiday that necessitates a date as a couple. Your anniversary is also a romantic holiday. “Maybe we can watch a family movie” is not a phrase that should be uttered on Valentine’s Day or your anniversary. Especially when family movie means Mom will have to give her undivided attention to one of the same horrid animated movies that constitute the soundtrack of her daily life during the week.
4. The first step to a wonderful Valentine’s Day is figuring out what you want.
After Kent and I really started talking about our attitudes toward V-day, I asked him, “What do you want?” His answer, “Consistency.” He wants a reliable formula for making me happy with predictable results so that he can win every year. I have three responses to that. First, I think it’s a legitimate thing to want. Inconsistency is annoying. Second, yay! My husband wants to make me happy! And third, it ain’t gonna happen. My tastes and wishes are supposed to stay the same year after year for decades? Ha! My favorite color has changed three times since I started writing this post.
But seriously, our first V-day as a married couple, my favorite flowers were tulips. Now, it’s probably those cream colored roses with pink tips. Next year? Who knows! In years where we were rolling in the dough, I loved going on an expensive date and getting a big fat bouquet and maybe some jewelry. In years when I’m counting every penny and have specifically asked for nothing, I’m not going to be able to appreciate expensive gifts because I have already spent that money on other things in my head. Also, women love to be ignored.
Although I can’t offer consistency, I can promise to always tell Kent exactly what I want and give him plenty of notice. Someday he may finally know me and my Pinterest boards so thoroughly that he can intuit exactly what I want this year. Lah! Yeah, but while heck is freezing over, I’d like to have some nice Valentine’s Days.
So this year I told Kent a secret, “I really don’t like the bouquets from 1-800-flowers. They are repulsively overpriced the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, and I’d probably rather just pick up 2 dozen roses from Costco. What I really want is some gourmet chocolate.”
What does a perfect Valentine’s Day/Anniversary look like to you? Do you want a surprise? Do you want a big date? Will that big date make you too tired for romance which will make you feel old and pathetic? Do you want a fancy dinner? If you glut yourselves on caramel bread pudding are you going to feel too gross that night? Are you okay going to a couples dinner with friends? What kind of budget makes you comfortable? What would have to happen for you to go to sleep that night thinking, “Wow, that was a great day?”
5. It’s not okay to say “Don’t get me anything.”
If you really don’t have the money, you can say, “You don’t have to get me anything” but still exchange letters and massages, or make brownies and make out. But it turns out “Don’t get me anything” is really rude. It’s likely to be interpreted as “I don’t care about the relationship.” There have been plenty of times when I’ve said, “Don’t give me anything” because a) gifts aren’t that important to me and b) I’m cheap, but Kent has understandably thought that was just something women say when they really mean, “Get me something.”
But what if you actually don’t want anything? HA! You want stuff. When I say “Don’t get me anything” it’s precisely because I DO want stuff. Very specific stuff that I have been mentally shopping for for some time. I just haven’t decided which compound miter saw I want, or I have 4 possible candidates for the thing I want in 4 shopping carts on 4 different websites, but I haven’t put that item into an Amazon wish list or a Pinterest Board called Gift Me. Which leads us to…
6. Make a list.
Harness the power of the internet! Now, if you love surprises, you are exempt, but every other woman needs to start an Amazon wish list and a Gift Me board on Pinterest tonight that you will keep curating through every romantic occasion and gifting day the whole year round. And don’t hesitate to include examples of flowers and jewelry that you actually like. Even the surprise-lovers will love their surprises that much more when their man has an idea of what they are into right now. If your Valentine has even half of Kent’s genuine desire to make his wife happy, he will find this kind of list and idea board incredibly empowering. Be sure to include items at a range of price points.
7. But don’t get us this crap.
Men, here a few little tips. Carnations are wannabe roses, and baby’s breath is as gross as it sounds. We had it in our prom corsage, but we never need to see it again. Carnations and baby’s breath are like all that extra air inflating the potato chips bag to make it look like it holds twice as many chips. It’s annoying, and it’s not fooling anyone. If you’ve ever thought of giving us a bouquet entirely composed of carnations and baby’s breath, you might as well give us a card that says “I Hate You.” And no non-Kardashian woman over the age of 13 actually wants heart-shaped jewelry. When we see other women wearing hearts, we think, “Man bought it. Poor dear has to wear that gift.” And Jane Seymour’s Open Heart collection looks like a butt. Oh, and don’t be fooled by the Best Seller list at 1800flowers.com. There’s no way to verify whether those are indeed the best selling bouquets, and even if they are, all that means is that they are the bouquets most often purchased by other clueless men. When in doubt go monochromatic. And skip that tacky purple/pink/green vase.