Monday, February 14, 2011

Take Responsibility for Your Valentine’s Day


Okay, so this post is primarily to the young wives out there. (Hopefully, you seasoned marrieds already know all about this.) What I have to say may sound radical. It may sound grossly unromantic. It might just shatter every last glimmer of poetic idealism you possess. Okay, I hope not. But here goes.

In the movies, the romantic leading man (picture your favorite hunky actor here) always knows just the right thing to sweep his lady off her feet. He would never let a February 14th slip by without some swoon-inducing surprise, or at least the obligatory box of chocolates. He would know to call a baby-sitter, exactly where to call for reservations, what special meal to order, and the perfect pair of earrings to have the maître d hide in the dessert. He would show up from work dressed to the nines with your favorite flowers. He would hold the door as you step into the car (well, okay, that’s just good manners, let’s hope every man does do that), and when you got home, your bed would be strewn with rose petals in your favorite hue.

Le sigh! Le swoon! 

But, chick flicks and romance novels be darned! For the vast majority of us, that just isn’t the way the world works. We may dream of spontaneity, but the honest truth is that all that the only thing all that dreaming is likely to get most of us is a whole lot of disappointment and a husband who is genuinely sorry that he cannot measure up to our ideals.

So, there are three options:

  1. We can let our poor husband know year in and year out just how much they have fallen short of producing the romantic night of our dreams. (Let’s hope we all pass on this one.)
  2. We can stiff-upper-lip it and hide the disappointment we feel year in and year out. (While I commend the wife who wants to build her husband up rather than tear him down, there’s really no need to be a perpetual martyr in this. Year one, suck it up. Year two: see option #3)
  3. Take your dream into your own hands and make it a reality!

This may sound radical, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with planning your own Valentine’s Day, ladies. We are talented, resourceful, modern women, and we are every bit as good at planning a romantic evening as our better halves. It doesn’t mean that we’re usurping our husbands’ leadership to plan a dinner date. And, it doesn’t mean that our husbands have somehow failed by not doing it themselves. Most likely, if you have a husband who fails to plan these sorts of things—or scrambles to do something—anything—at the last minute and it never turns out quite right—it probably just means that he wants to please you and simply doesn’t know how. He may not have had a very good example growing up, or he may worry that simply copying your favorite movie is an insincere cop-out. So, throw him a bone! Let him know what you want. Or, surprise him with a romantic night that you will both love.

Do you enjoy eating out? Well, then budget for a fancy dinner, call your favorite restaurant, and phone the baby-sitter. Do you love flowers? Tell him (don’t hint—tell him) what you would like. (Now that he knows, he might even be able to pull this one off himself next year.) Do you want him to dress up? Lay out his suit and tie for him. Do you want a special gift? Call the store to make sure it’s in stock and let him know about it! Don’t forget what he loves, too. Cook his favorite meal, wear that perfume you know he loves, clean the bedroom, light some candles, and slip something sexy on under that dinner dress.

Remember, just because your man does not take the initiative to make dinner reservations does not mean he doesn’t care about you.

Just because your husband may not know the perfect gift to make your eyes light up does not mean he doesn’t care about you.

Just because your beloved doesn’t bring you a dozen long-stemmed roses (say it with me!) does not mean he doesn’t care about you.

Now that said, if your husband loves nothing better than planning a wonderful, surprise romantic evening for you complete with champagne and roses, then by all means, count yourself blessed, sit back, and enjoy the surprise! For everyone else, don’t be jealous of these women. They did not necessarily get a better deal than you. Romantic initiative, while an incredible perk, does not the perfect husband make. Think about why your husband is exactly right for you, why he is the best man you know, and why you have every reason to fall more in love with him right now than ever. Then, dream big, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to pull out all the stops!


  1. Amen! Aaron and I have been married for 5 years this upcoming June, and for the last few years, I've been pounding it into his head that roses do NOT equal true love.

    We had a fight a few months ago, and he came home that night with a bottle of my favorite wine ($7 wine...), and a mix of tulips and big fluffy carnations. It wasn't that he came home with wine and flowers, with the promise of an early bedtime for the kids and a wildly romantic night that made me forgive him and get was that he FINALLY LISTENED! I hate roses. I think they're cliche and silly... while I'll buy them for myself (okay, I don't HATE them...just as a profession of undying love.), it means more to me that he buys something he knows I like. Daffodils in May, lilacs in June (swiped from a neighbor's arbor who has too many and lets us enjoy all we can...). THAT is true love.

    He knows what I love, finally. And I'm cool with a greasy burger, french fries, and a Lienenkugel's on Friday night after an early movie for date night; it's what I love. And I'm glad he loves me for me. :)

  2. Such good and true advice. They say that nothing is more crushing to a man than angry disappointment from his wife. Men hate feeling like they've failed, and they really want to make their spouses happy. It's just the mind-reading part that's difficult for them :-). I felt a bit silly or greedy setting things up myself or saying exactly what I wanted early on, but the great thing is that my smart husband picks up on things fast. Once he had a chance to learn things I love, instead of having to stand bewildered on the sidelines while his irrational wife stalked around the apartment huffing "I'm not mad. It's FINE!", he knows exactly what to do to make my day. Our husbands love us, and men aren't stupid or incompetent as the media would have us believe - it's just not their fault if they don't speak "woman-ese" and need a translation into plain English!

  3. I'm reading this the day after Valentine's Day; I wish I'd read it earlier. The day before V Day, my husband asked if I wanted to go out to dinner. I said no thank you, because we had such a busy weekend and I just wanted a quiet night at home. All I asked for is if he could pick up dinner and get me printer paper.

    He picked up dinner plus chocolate and flowers, which is super sweet, but he was frustrated by how shabby and picked-over the flowers were in the store. All the roses were literally falling apart and drooping, so he got a mixed bouquet, which was way overpriced. (I didn't tell him they were overpriced, but I know they were, because I used to work at a floral dept. How did I know the price? He told me! I guess once you get married, people are not discreet about the prices of things anymore.)

    Eventually I realized I had to explain to him a few facts about the flower business or he would keep getting overpriced, shabby flowers. So I said that if you really want nice flowers on Valentine's Day, you probably won't find them at the local ShopRite at 6 pm on your way home from work.

    The weird thing is, when we were dating, he did get nicer flowers and plan more for Valentine's Day. I reminded him that before we were married, he ordered very nice roses from Pro Flowers and had them delivered. He said, oh yeah, but didn't you say Pro Flowers are usually not fully in bloom when you get them?

    I responded that if I did say that, it was a COMPLIMENT to the flowers, not a critique; roses aren't supposed to be fully open. If they are, that means they're old. He was like, ohhhh, so rose buds are a good thing. (He thought roses were supposed to be fully open and almost going to seed!)

    After I explained all that, I wondered if I should have just been grateful for my grossly overpriced bouquet of cheap flowers and not said anything, but then I read this post and felt better. It just makes me cringe that he spent his hard-earned money on a mixed bouquet that was priced six times what it was worth.

    Oh, and he forgot the printer paper (which to me as a writer is actually a meaningful gift). But he did get take-out, flowers and chocolate. I think that now he finally understands a little more about the flower business, probably more than he wants to know. He's a great husband, but there are certain details he just didn't understand.

  4. I realized my mistake when I had told my husband he shouldn't feel like he needs to get roses on Valentine's day, since the prices will be high. Couple days before, "I thought you said you didn't want flowers?" Apparently he doesn't differentiate between roses and flowers in general! Next time. Or I might just go buy myself some.

  5. Thanks for posting this :)
    I have just been reading the book "Intimate Issues" (which is fabulous by the way, it was recommended over at and your post gels wonderfully with what I have been gleaning from the book. Have you read it?

  6. Miriam - I haven't, but I usually love Ann's book recommendations, so I will have to check it out.

  7. Beautifully said! I have been married to my husband for 6 years now and I will begrudgingly admit that I used to be the woman who always complained that the romance lacked, not just on Valentines, but every day. Then, one day, I matured and realized that I was a part of the marriage too. Since I began to take romance into my own hands, my husband has started to respond in kind. In fact, he frequently outdoes me in the romance category!

    A fellow blogger once wrote that "sometimes you have to let loving someone be it's own reward." But to add to that, loving someone often times leads to many other rewards! Thanks for the great post!

  8. Amen! Well said. This should be given to every married woman. You are so right -- we need to stop complaining or criticizing and take a little responsibility for creating happiness. So glad I stumbled on this post.


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