Ahh…February… The month commandeered for Love and Romance.
I’ve heard all sorts of responses on what Valentine’s Day means to people. Some love the excuse to buy gifts and have an extravagant meal. Others are firmly in the camp of boycotting the commercialization of romance created by Valentine’s Day (or perhaps it’s the belief that consumerism created the holiday as we know it). Yet others feel sad and lonely, as they face the impending day without a romantic partner. Someone even jokingly set up a follow-up holiday on March 14th that they named “Steak and a BJ Day,” pointing to the fact that Valentine’s Day commercialization definitely sets the expectation that women are pampered and adored by their men by creating an equally stereotyped holiday focused on taking care of the men in the relationships.
Valentine’s Day creates a lot of pressure to meet expectations, and a very public societal picture of what those expectations should look like.
The almost overwhelming societal pressure for Valentine’s Day to “look” a certain way, combined with the HUGE variety of beliefs and feelings attached to the holiday, is a perfect recipe for miscommunication and upset.
Take my brother and his now wife. Early in their dating relationship they got to have a conversation around expectations for this day. My brother is strongly in the camp of boycotting the commercialism of Valentine’s Day as well as viewing cards and wrapping paper as frivolous and wasteful (Christmas presents from him are often wrapped with recycled newspaper, brown paper bags, or just the Amazon box they arrived in).
My (now) sister-in-law had an expectation that she would receive some romantic gesture of his affection on Valentine’s Day, and when not even a card materialized it created the opportunity to explore their different perspectives and expectations. (I suspect there may have been some level of upset that preceded the sharing of perspectives, as that is what most commonly happens with unmet expectations.)
Thankfully, as I understand it, that is exactly what happened. They had a conversation where they shared their different views and came to an agreement for future Valentine’s Days: my brother agreed to meet her need for a tangible acknowledgement of his love for her on that specific day in the form of a card. They agreed to forego flowers, candy, expensive prix fixe dinners in fancy restaurants, etc. as they agreed to express their love more organically throughout the year without the commercial pressure, expectations, and ‘deadline.’
My brother and sister-in-law’s conversation is not the norm in our society. People have to learn how to communicate effectively, and most are never taught how. Learning to recognize when an upset happens, discover why it occurred, and come to an agreement for what it will look like going forward is a gift.
The gift of clear, respectful communication is a gift that demonstrates love day in and day out. If you want to be that gift for someone, set up a Complimentary Consultation with me to learn how I can help you achieve those goals.