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Candies, Flowers, and Kisses – How to Manage Expectations on Valentine’s Day

heart-480367_1920Dave isn’t romantic; he probably won’t even remember it’s Valentine’s day. The last couple of years he forgot, and we’ve ended up fighting“, I overheard a woman sitting next to me say to her friend. I resisted the urge to ask the question burning on the tip of my tongue, “Why don’t you remind him Valentine’s Day is coming up?” Although, I am confident I know the response, as I have asked this question before to friends whose boyfriends/ fiancés/ husbands don’t meet their annual love day expectations. The response I usually receive is, “That takes the romance out of it!” I beg to differ, as I am not sure how fighting over forgotten cards, flower bouquets, and heart- shaped boxes filled with chocolate is anymore romantic. I didn’t always have this perspective. I would have responded the same way at the start of my husband, Bernard, and I’s relationship. In fact, we did fight once over a forgotten card.

Bernard, the love of my life, is probably one of the most forgetful people I know. However, at the beginning, of our relationship, he did remember and plan special V-day things for us to do. But as our lives became increasingly busier, things such as Cupid’s holiday started to slip his mind. I remember one Valentine’s day that he forgot to get me a card, which is the one and only thing I like to receive. I felt hurt and similar to the woman at the bar and her boyfriend Dave, our Valentine’s Day ended in a fight.

We can blame our high expectations of Cupid’s holiday on movies such as The Notebook or any other Hollywood movie where big romantic gestures are pivotal moments that grab any sappy person’s heart. Or we can blame the card companies that start promoting Valentine’s Day the day after Christmas. Either way, high expectations are placed on this one day of love, and when one partner falls short, hurt feelings and conflict quickly arise.

How did I learn to manage my expectations for love day?

I started sending my husband friendly reminders. We have an unspoken agreement now that I will remind him of friend’s and family’s birthdays, important dates and holidays, and special appointments he and I have via our shared calendar app. By doing this, he is alerted when a special occasion is nearing. Bernard recognizes his forgetfulness as a shortcoming, and though he is working on this, he nor I expect it to happen overnight and this we found is a realistic solution. Isn’t that less romantic? Some would argue it is, but to me, it is better than expecting him to remember and then getting upset when he doesn’t, especially since I knew that was a possibility.

I also recognized, which I think we sometimes forget, that Hollywood movies are fiction. They are stories designed to get emotional reactions from us and therefore, developing an expectation of romantic gestures from them is setting yourself us up to be disappointed. I stopped placing so much pressure on this one day of the year and started making mental notes of all the little things and gestures my husband does day-to-day that shows he loves and cares for me. Bernard is loving and romantic in so many ways that are not grand or flashy; an example is, letting our puppy out and feeding him in the morning so I can sleep more. I don’t expect this but every time he does it I find it super romantic.

I also acknowledge that V-day may not be as big of a deal to my husband as it is for me and that is okay! Bernard celebrates Cupid’s holiday because I love it and just because the day isn’t as important to him doesn’t mean he loves me any less. Some of you might believe that if your significant other forgets, or doesn’t plan something spectacular that it correlates to their feelings for you. A way to manage these expectations before any important event or holiday is for the two of you to discuss your expectations to make sure you are on the same page. And if you are not, then be clear about communicating your needs and establish what is realistic, genuine and authentic in your relationship.

Happy Valentine’s Day ©

Abigail R. C. McManus


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