The question: Why do people like Valentine’s Day? I hate it. Not because I’m single, I’ve actually been happily married to my wife for six years. But she always gets upset when I don’t go all out or seem sincere enough on this one annual occasion. I’m a good husband, I think, and she tells me that I do loving things for her all the time during the other 364 days. So what gives? Why do people get so caught up in a single day that (I think) isn’t all that special?
The answer: There’s no special occasion that men and women disagree about more than Valentine’s Day! You are like many men that I hear from: frustrated and confused about the (seemingly) disproportionate emphasis that their female partners place on this day relative to other days of the year.
So, here’s the answer to your question in a nutshell: Women like Valentine’s Day for reasons that are, in spirit, not dissimilar to the reasons they like other special occasions. The day is a celebration of something very special in their lives – love. An informal poll of my female friends was unanimous: This is a day that women want to feel extra loved, appreciated and special to their partners.
Chalk it up to the childhood dreams many of us women have about fairy-tale happy endings and knights in shining armour. It’s perhaps a little silly, and usually far from the reality of life, but certainly something that makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Here’s what I suggest: Rather than getting caught up worrying about why so many other people like this day, why don’t you ask your wife what it is that she values about the day? After all, it’s her opinion that matters the most. Ask her how she would like to celebrate. Then communicate – non-defensively – how you feel about the occasion. It may be that you are putting undue pressure on yourself and thinking she expects something much grander than what is actually the case.
In his fantastic book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, Dr. Gary Chapman writes about the differences couples encounter when they are speaking different “love languages.” He articulates the importance of understanding your partner’s primary love language (i.e. quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service or physical touch) as a way to improve and strengthen your relationship. Special occasions – and the associated celebration of them – often speak to the different love languages couples have, and the differences partners have about how the other communicates their love.
So, smile. Enjoy the day. Go the extra mile for your wife on this day, then ask yourself: Something that makes her feel extra happy and special can’t be all bad, can it?
(Note: My answer is not intended to exclude same-sex couples, but rather to address some of the significant sex differences that do exist between men and women when it comes to Valentine’s Day.)
Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and organizational & media consultant. She is the host of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s Million Dollar Neighbourhood and is the psychological consultant to CITY-TV’s The Bachelor Canada. Her website is www.drjotisamra.com and she can be followed @drjotisamra .
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