The importance of Valentine's Day
Nancy was already feeling in the dumps and it was only the middle of January. Fancy Valentine boxes of chocolates appearing in the local drug store made her feel worse. Valentine cards, ideas for gifts and romantic evenings seemed to be everywhere. Nancy, 28 and single, felt assaulted by the media and even the other gals in the office who were comfortably in relationships and busily planning for February 14th. And to make matters even worse, her boyfriend of the last 3 years had just married. She could only imagine how much fun he would be having in a few weeks. Nancy was truly miserable.
Jacky was happily married for five years, except for one thing. Steve never seemed to get the importance of Valentine's Day. Every year she tried to give him hints. She left magazines open to articles like how to have a romantic Valentine's Day surprise for your sweetheart. She made sure she created a fantastic meal for the 14th and set the atmosphere for when Steve came home from work. The house was decorated with cherubs and Valentine's. The candles were set on the table. The soft music played in the background. And each year she had experienced about the same results. Steve came home tired, seemed surprised at all the fuss, gave her a kiss on the cheek, a Valentine card that displayed more of an effort to not waste money than to be romantic, put on the news and basically ignored her as soon as he finished dessert. And to top it off, Steve couldn't fathom why Jacky was unhappy with him.
Natalie* has been struggling with romantic and exaggerated memories about a lover from her past. Compared to her husband David, who she sees everyday, and who isn't always on his toes romantically (being a slightly remote college professor) Jack looks fabulous in her mind's eye. Even Jack's negative personality traits have faded. Memories of his love-making skills haven't. This Valentine's Day may be a day of nostalgic daydreaming of long lost lovemaking instead of throwing herself into her basically sound and loving marriage.
All of these women suffer conditions that often plague women on February 14th. What should be a pleasant day of love and affection has turned for many into a day of dread and despair . Let's look at the psychological factors that play into this unhealthy situation:
Nancy's situation is very typical of women who don't currently have a significant other. Our society is a couple's society and when we are alone the media, family and friends make that blatantly clear. Most of us want someone to love and I'm not here to change that. But as a positive psychologist I am going to make a healthy suggestion:
We need to remember who our best friend over our lifetime really is. It is yourself! No one other than yourself will accompany you through every moment of your life. You are alive because of your mind, body and spirit all working together in harmony! Doesn't this fabulous arrangement deserve a party? In fact, the best way around the gloom of feeling alone on Valentine's Day is to arrange some sort of party for yourself. This may mean getting together with others at a great restaurant, taking in a show, making yourself a fabulous dinner and reading a romance novel or inviting out someone who needs an uplift even more than you do. A little bit of self-love will lift a down mood and of course in the long run make you more desirable. So it is really a win-win.
Jacky suffers from another type of romantic misunderstanding. She believes that if her husband really loves her, he mind read exactly what she wants and needs on a holiday like Valentine's Day. The problem is that he can't! Even she would admit that he has never made money as a psyche!
For Jacky the situation can be solved quite easily. She needs to make her needs and desires known clearly to Steve. Many men don't hold Valentine's Day in the front of their minds like the Super Bowl. So here is my suggestion for this very typical scenario:
Clarify your needs for Valentine's Day! If you want romance that night don't be afraid to alert your partner! He may love the great dinner and feel all cozy for a nap after a long day at work, unless you give a clear message that romancing is on the agenda after eating! I leave how you make that message clear up to you. I know you can figure out a way. If you want a formal evening with dinner out and a show, plan it in advance together. Make sure the events you plan either interest him also, or at least there is a trade in order. For example, maybe for his birthday you are getting tickets to his favorite hockey team. By the end of a well planned evening that he clearly also anticipates, you won't care that he isn't a psyche!
Natalie's* situation is also very common. Many women have fantasy romances in their mind, forgetting that the guys we link back up with on Facebook have aged just as much or more than we have over the last 20 or 30 years! And I don't just mean wrinkles. Life happens. An old beau may have married, divorced, lost a job, had children, moved, etc. We don't know the facts let along his emotional hardships.
The present is our present to ourselves. Treat it as such and try to stay in the present. If you are in a decent relationship, the time make it even better is now. What do you need to do to make it better: more time together? better communication skills? honoring each other's interests? handling the kids more effectively? decluttering? more time for sex? better sex? perhaps seeing a marriage counselor?
Of course, I could go on and on. Only you know where to start. Find an area to work on in your relationship and soon you will see more clearly the past for what it is and the present for all the Valentine wonders of the heart are here right with you, right now! Happy Valentine's Day!
*Natalie is one of the two main characters in my latest romance, mystery novel, Next Year in Jerusalem!