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Boycotting Valentine's Day

I told Mr. W that we’re to not exchange Valentine’s gifts this year. None. It’s not that I don’t love a good present. Truth is, one of my favorite things is to unwrap a surprise treat, no matter what it is, and especially when it’s meant as a token of love. But this year, last minute, I decided against it. And the biggest reason is because it was starting to feel more like a forced gift rather than a token of love. We were even making gift requests to each other. I needed my oil changed and had been eyeing a pair of silver hoop earrings. He really wanted a gift card to Ace Hardware. We each had a $40 limit. And it was starting to feel like this was just another Christmas gift rather than a loving gesture of our feelings for each other. So I put my foot down last minute and said that this year there would be no gifts.

But I’m not against Valentine’s Day. I actually love the idea that there is a holiday that has been set aside strictly to unleash those romantic gestures of love to the one who makes your palms get all sweaty and your heart race faster. It’s when guys, who statistically aren’t prone to be romantic on a day-to-day basis, are bringing flowers to their wives, getting all dressed up for dates, showering them with cards that tell how much they love them, giving them boxes of chocolates, and maybe presenting something sparkly they can wear proudly the rest of the year. For couples that generally don’t see a lot of romance the rest of the year, it’s when a little of that passion that brought them together in the first place is reintroduced – even for just one day.

But there are negative feelings involved with the holiday too. Men feel put out, bitter because they are being forced to shower their girl with gifts, flowers, and cheesy cards all because it’s become expected of them – and there isn’t so much of a demand on women to reciprocate. Relationship expert Marc Rudov is even calling for a national boycott from men of the “NOmance” holiday. “There’s nothing romantic about coercing men to oblige female entitlement,” Rudov said. “Valentine’s Day artificially and unilaterally caters to women. It’s the media’s annual male-bashing fest.”  And one blogger over at CafeStir has written a whole article on why married people should skip Valentine’s Day altogether. “Valentine’s is the day we are supposed to prove our love to the person we’re smitten with. Well, if you are married, don’t you think that the act of getting married and sharing your everyday life with your husband is proof enough?”Mr. W and I are not lacking in romance. While I admit there were a lot more gifts for no reason and bouquets of flowers (from both sides – yes, women can give flowers to men) in the beginning of the relationship, there are actually even better gestures of love that we give to each other now. On days that I stay over, he brings me coffee in bed in the morning, and we pore over the newspaper together before greeting the day. I make him breakfast, and he washes the dishes afterwards. We fold each other’s laundry. He washes my car. He teaches my son how to mow the lawn, how to build a greenhouse for our vegetable garden, and plays ball with him in the yard. We give each other weekly 10 minute squeezes to relieve the pressure a grueling work week can bring. He makes dinner almost every night when I’m there, plating the food as if it were a Michelin restaurant and I were the food critic he wished to impress. We talk every single night, wrapping up the day with a phonecall to rehash our days and just say goodnight. We send each other occasional “I’m thinking of you” texts.

The truth is, we don’t need Valentine’s Day to keep romance in our relationship.

I still believe in the holiday, and am actually against any boycott that is being implied by a so-called relationship expert. But what if couples worked on their relationship throughout the whole entire year rather than putting so much stress and pressure on one day in February? What if small gestures of love were given every day, rather than a big gesture on just one day? What if husbands brought their wives flowers every week or did the dishes after eating dinner? What if wives made their husband’s lunch before they went off to work or asked about their husband’s day with actual intent to listen? What if husbands and wives set aside a time every single day to just sit and talk with no interruptions and nothing on the agenda? Would divorce rates go down? Would happiness go up?

Would anything change?

At any rate, while I have put my foot down towards V-Day gifts, we’re still celebrating. We’ll get each other a nice card, and then go out to lunch together where I will pay for his meal, and he will pay for mine. And then we will go back to our own homes and spend Valentine’s Day with our own children. And that, to me, is the perfect way to celebrate a day set aside for love.

What are your thoughts on Valentine’s Day? Are you doing anything special?