Valentine's Day, in it's purest form, is a day to stop and remember how sweet love is and how lucky we are if we have it. But, like many other arbitrary holidays, Valentine's Day is also a clever invention and more often than not, a day of intense pressure and expectation. Florists build their entire year's business around this one day, usually hiking up the price of roses to three or four times their value, and every where you look, little red hearts and cupids adorn card shops and candy shops and just about every other kind of shop there is. "Valentine's Day Circular Saw Sale!" is not an uncommon sight.
Men scurry around like crazy trying to get last minute flowers or candy, restaurants are booked solid, and many young women secretly expect a little velvet box and a proposal to come their way some time during the evening. For new couples, Valentine's Day can be an uncomfortable time - do you profess undying love and devotion to someone you are just beginning to get to know? If you don't, will that doom the relationship? Most women believe that it will. In fact, most women think that forgetting or foregoing Valentine's Day - ever - is a sure sign the relationship is through.
I suspect that the main reason so many women look forward to Valentine's Day is that they don't feel loved or cherished the rest of the year. Valentine's Day becomes, for them, the one time of the year they feel special, cherished, adored, and the one day that romance is actively encouraged and praised. It's the only time that their husbands feel compelled to make some gesture of romance, to write out their hearts in a mushy card and present it the arms of a red plush bear.
But I say that these women don't feel loved because most women are loved dearly by their husbands, they just aren't showered with gifts and teddy bears and bouquets of flowers every day. Most women have husbands who don't want to live without them, who would brave just about anything to save them from harm, who feel privileged to have them in their arms at night, and who believe, rightly so, that one of the purest and most romantic ways to show them how much they care, besides having married them, is to make love to them, and only them, with passion and affection and love. Their only fault, perhaps, is that they often keep their feelings to themselves, assuming their wives know how they feel.
To be fair to women, it's nice to be reminded from time to time how special you are to the man you love. Little things can mean a lot. Women whose husbands and partners neglect or ignore them, or assume that their wives don't need to be told how special they are, can feel incredibly lonely and isolated, and even unfeminine. Especially if their men were demonstrative when they were courting.
But I believe these women have a far bigger problem than a forgotten Valentine's Day. Treating the symptom, as the saying goes, does not cure the disease. If your marriage is a 364 day-a-year drought nourished only by one day of forced romance, you really have to re-examine your marriage. Flowers and candy and a nice dinner somewhere won't solve your problems, especially if he feels as though it's something he has to do. As much as I like the idea of love and romance and married couples taking time out to celebrate their relationship, I think Valentine's Day can cause more problems than it fixes, as can anything that's built on the appearance of something valuable instead of the value itself.
One way to bring some balance into your life is to have only one special day a year - your wedding anniversary, perhaps, or the anniversary of the day you met, or some other meaningful event that the two of you shared. Some day that neither of you has to be prodded into remembering, some day that seems like a natural high for the both of you, and one that you enjoy celebrating every year. It will be all the more special because it is a day that belongs only to you, an idle day in mid-August, for example, through which everyone else goes to work and pays their bills but a day that means the world to the two of you. This has to be more meaningful than an arbitrary day in February on which everyone in the world is supposed to pucker up and feel the love.
The other solution is to make every day Valentine's Day, in some small way. If you see a little trinket or token that your love would adore, buy it for them and surprise them with it when they get home. There doesn't have to be a reason or an occasion - you love them, that's reason enough. Fill your marriage with affection and romance every day of the year - bring your wife flowers if she likes them, or scribble a little love note to your husband and put it in with his lunch. Or best of all, forgo the trinkets and tokens altogether and simply love each other. Kiss each other, caress each other, fall asleep in each other's arms. Go for long walks hand in hand, smile when your eyes meet, whisper sexy suggestions in his ear while he's changing a light bulb, kiss the back of her neck while she's doing dishes. Write her a poem or paint him a picture, make a collage of your photos and surprise her by making it the wallpaper on your computer - simple, thoughtful, meaningful to you - that's the essence of romance.
Make each day of your marriage as sexy and romantic as you can, and enjoy the feeling it gives you. When every day is tinged with love and affection, going out to buy candy or flowers or jewelry some day in February will seem almost pointless, and certainly not worth the stress.