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Valentine’s Day – Pleasure or Pressure?

be mine inscription with bunch of roses
Photo by Gabby K on

Valentine’s Day fascinates me. No so much the day itself, but rather how people respond to it. Years ago when I was in High School, they used to sell carnations leading up to the day. They had different colors to represent different feelings. Red was for love, green was for friendship, etc. The thing I remember most about that was the day the flowers were delivered. It clearly put people (especially girls) into one of two camps: those that got a flower(s) and those that did not. There were a lot of tears shed when highly coveted and anticipated flowers were never delivered.

Today, Valentine’s Day has become less about men trying to show affection to women and the responsibility is more equally shared. While the spirit of the day is to show love and affection, it’s become an obligation to do something showy. You don’t want to be the couple that did less than your friends or coworkers. Pressure from social media, retailers, florists and restaurants imply that if you love someone, you will do something very special for them on this day. If you do nothing, you must not care at all.

I am a huge fan of expressing love and affection in a relationship, especially in marriage. We should never become complacent or take our spouse for granted. Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to show your feelings toward your spouse. But my question is this. Are you celebrating the day to show your true feelings, or are you caving in to social pressure because every one else is?

In our early years of dating and marriage, Valentines Day was a huge deal for me. My love language is gifts, so it was natural for me to express my feelings by buying something special or taking my wife to a nice restaurant. What is interesting, is that her love language is acts of service. She appreciated the things I would purchase, but never came to expect them. During this same timeframe, I remember being disappointed when the day would come and go and there would no reciprocal gift giving (from her to me). It honestly, just never occurred to her.

As a result, most Valentines Days come and go for us with minimal recognition. She doesn’t expect anything, and I typically don’t do much. Now, having said that, let me clarify something. Just because I don’t cave into the pressure to do something on this specific day doesn’t mean that I don’t do things. I still love to express my affection for her through the purchasing of gifts (though I also perform acts of service as well to speak her language). But what I’ve found is that in our marriage, these gifts are far more meaningful when I give them for no specific reason. If I bring her flowers in mid-March, it simply sends the message that I was thinking of her and I love her. To my wife that is more meaningful than to receive roses on Valentine’s Day where she might suspect I simply gave into peer pressure or advertising.

The key is to do what your spouse most appreciates. Not all spouses are like my wife. You may be married to someone that would be terribly disappointed if you didn’t get them something specifically on Valentine’s Day. If that’s the case, please don’t disappoint them. But I can assure you that not limiting this expression of love to one day of the year will be at least equally appreciated, probably more so.

For many, Valentine’s Day serves as a calendar reminder to show our affections. Nothing wrong with that. But I encourage you to check your motivations to ensure that you really are expressing love, not just complying to social pressures. Show your love throughout the year.

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