Ladies, I’m about to give you the gift that keeps on giving. You might think this is a diss on Valentine’s Day, and in a way it is. But at the core of everything I’m about to tell you lies exactly what you want – a Valentine that lasts year round.
Now before I start let me assure you, I know what I’m talking about. I got an email this morning from an editor who is beta reading my 7th book, Dating 101 (this one is for our young’uns. I’m trying to teach them how to get it right before they get it wrong. Yes, I love selling books, but what I love more is the thought that all of us could be in functional relationships.)
Here’s what she said about Fix That Shit:
Just getting started (Dating 101). BTW – I had only skimmed Fix That Shit – until this morning. I started at the beginning today and am about half way through it. You are a fantastic writer and have great insight into this human relationship dance!!
The fact is, I get it. I get what makes us happy, I get what makes men happy, and I get what makes men want to make their women happy – and pushing Valentine’s on the men who couldn’t care less is making everyone involved unhappy.
Let me point out something about men in general. I’ll use my hubbie as an example, because he’s Your Typical Good Man.
My husband prefers to be in the moment, and he likes to focus his energy on accomplishing things that are practical. He also doesn’t like to be told what to do. Valentine’s Day challenges all three of those mentalities, forcing him to think ahead to something that only has value because a social construct told him it does. All this creates a measure of stress in his mind that he’d rather not have to deal with, which is a sentiment I think is common among men.
Plus, the standard dinner date with flowers is starting to feel kind of stale. Eating out used to be a rare treat for couples, but our culture today has made eating at restaurants something we do much more frequently, to the point where there’s no longer a feeling of novelty.
Our culture has developed more daring ways to entertain ourselves too. Rock climbing, trampolines, and even free falling has moved to indoor centers where we can chase ever increasing adrenaline rushes. So why choose boring dinners when for the same amount of money you can jack up your emotions and leave feeling like you stepped outside your box?
The thing is, doing the same routine year after year without changing the reason why is killing the good feelings you’re chasing after on those Valentine’s Day dates. Those first few Valentine’s felt meaningful because they were signs that your relationship was enduring the test of time. But a number of them are behind you it’s time to apply a deeper significance if you’re going to keep celebrating that particular date.
Ladies I assure you, if he’s not jumping all over the idea of making this day special it’s because he’s getting bored of the cycle of negative feelings associated to Valentine’s Day. Women feel men should have gotten the message loud and clear by now that THIS is the day he surprises her with her deepest hopes. Unfortunately men are avoiding the message, and if you’re quietly hoping or subtly hinting, he’s likely not picking up the cues. Predictably, his stress of wanting to please you but not meeting your expectations, along with your feelings of hope followed by disappointment, create a negative spin around that one day that lasts well before, and after it.
It’s a rut that today’s couples should be getting out of ASAP.
It’s no secret that the gifts which are the most fun to give are the ones that come straight from the heart. Unfortunately Valentine’s just ends up being a stressful occasion for men who feel they have to rise up to secret expectations, and use their imaginations in ways that feel unnatural to them. Then, when they fail to create the magical day you were asking for they have to deal with the emotional fallout. It’s a repetitive cycle that creates more of a sense of avoidance than anticipation.
My philosophy? To actually focus on loving each other meaningfully year round, and as a gift to each other, let Valentine’s Day go. Trying to create magic on one particular day to make up for the lack of magic the rest of the year doesn’t create the sort of relationship that will last. Ideally, we love each other deeply and intimately by practicing love as a behaviour, showing understanding and compassion towards each other’s needs.
In certain ways my husband and I practice Valentine’s Day every week, by ensuring we’re frequently looking after what makes our partner feel cared for. We know each other’s love language and are both willing participants and steady initiators when it comes to dispensing loving actions. Now, we feel loved on a regular basis and Valentine’s Day becomes a commercial day that we can just let fade into the ether. In fact, I consider it a gift to him to give that day a pass. I know my partner works hard to show me he loves me, and vice versa. It’s because of this regular input of love that we feel like Valentine’s Day is a weekly occurrence, not just yearly, and we’re able to appreciate our relationship much more because we put an emphasis on giving valuable emotional input rather than try to live up to fru-fru dates on our calendar.
There are things you can do on this day that are far from the traditional dinner and a card, that’ll have lasting results on your relationship and most importantly, how you love each other. I prefer things like this because they show a deeper appreciate for one another, and a commitment to developing love on a deeper level together. If Valentine’s Day is all about love then let’s make love a verb and try some of these:
♥ Do a Love Language quiz to better understand how to express your love for each other. People interpret love in different ways, so understanding your partners particular method means you’ll be able to make them feel even more loved than before, making the next 365 days better than the last 365.
♥ Book a couple’s therapeutic getaway. It doesn’t have to happen on that date; you can book it, or choose a place together on Valentine’s Day. Something that helps you dig deep and develop more love and intimacy in the relationship. You can choose a different getaway year to year, or go back to places that felt magical and deepened your appreciation for each other
♥ Write a healing letter where you actually work through issues. Sometimes people try to use Valentine’s Day as a band aid. Instead, use it go deeper and heal. Intimacy is developed through trust, so make this a date where you open up and trust each other more with your feelings.
♥ Make Valentine’s the day you both try something different. Have friends write interesting things to do on a piece of paper them toss it into a bowl. Do what you pick from the bowl. This will get you both outside your box and feeling some nervous excitement. Rising up to a fun challenge together can help you develop teamwork and learn how to compromise too.
♥ Make a bucket list together and pick something to check off this year. Then come up with the plan that’ll get you accomplishing it. Working together towards common goals is bonding for couples, and exciting when the goal is something that creates mutual fun.
Are you reading this and asking, “but what about my special day! I’ve been looking forward to at least ONE day that’s all about me!”
Valid point! I WANT you to feel special, so here’s what I, and every good man out there, want’s you to understand: If you make Valentine’s a regular occurrence for him, he’ll make it a regular occurrence for you. This might sound counter-intuitive, but good men are always looking for a chance to reciprocate – key word here is reciprocate. If you give him a pass on this day, PLUS, understand his Love Language and put it into practice every day, he won’t be able to do enough for you. You’ll get appreciation, surprises, and a lot of exhibitions of his love language, as he tries to keep up with re-dispensing all the gratitude he picked up from your behaviours.
Side note: GOOD MEN are this way. Guys are selfish takers. If you don’t know what you’re with, then you might need to read my book No More Assholes – Your 7 Step Guide To Saying Goodbye To Guys And Finding The Real Man You’re Looking For.
The whole point of Valentine’s Day is Love. So ditch the standard, old ways of showing love. If they’re not working then it’s time to change tracks and do something that really makes this day special – either because you practiced something new, or because you’re proud of yourselves for doing so much for each other that it felt like Valentine’s Day was last week already.
Chantal Heide is an Author and Motivational Speaker, focusing on dating and relationships. Her books Comeback Queen, Fake Love Need Not Apply, No More Assholes, After The First Kiss, and Fix That Shit are available on Amazon. View her BOOKS page for more information. Be sure to sign up for her mailing list to be eligible for free giveaways.