February 14 is Valentine’s Day; a day when candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones. The history of Valentine’s Day and the story of its patron saint is cloaked in mystery. The Catholic Church recognizes three different saints named Valentine, all of whom were martyred.
Others claimed the church was trying to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival celebrated around February 15, dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as Valentine’s Day. It was much later that the day became associated with love and actual Valentine greetings were exchanged during the Middle Ages.
Nowadays, Valentine’s Day continues to be a celebration of love; but it frequently sets up men for failure and women for disappointment. Watch the commercials on TV: diamonds, marriage proposals, get away weekends, chocolates, flowers, on and on. Think of the expectations that are created!
As we learned in a previous blog, expectations increase our stress and also our inability to relax and enjoy the moment. Alison Armstrong, creator of Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women, states that expectations turn us into takers rather than receivers. This is Leap Year, and traditionally social customs are turned upside down. Let’s make this Valentine’s Day about giving instead of receiving. Ask the man in your life what would make him feel appreciated, and then lovingly do it!
If you would like something special, tell him! You cannot expect him to “know” what you want. Women believe that it doesn’t count if we have to provide him with the information. But I challenge you, ladies, to change your belief. It does “count” if you have to leave him notes or pictures telling him what you want. Ultimately, you’re helping him feel successful! Now it’s a win/win situation!
When he does show up with something, let him know you appreciate it! Whatever our man gives us, remember, it is a GIFT, and it should be graciously received. Effort counts just as much as the end result. There’s nothing more disheartening than giving a gift and it is not acknowledged, not appreciated, or just plain ole’ rejected!
Alison further outlines five steps that you can do to set your man up to be successful. These steps can also be used for birthdays and anniversaries.
1. Ask yourself, “What is it that you need that day?” Think of the one thing that if it does not happen, will leave you upset. Is it going for a walk with your partner? If you’re married, do you want to be treated like a girlfriend, not a wife or a mother? If you’re single, can you buy yourself a bunch of flowers? Remember this is one day in your life; it’s not your whole relationship.
2. Next, ask “After I have what I need, what will make me happy?” Do you want a card? Do you want him to play a special song and dance you around the bedroom?
3. Alison says that the next step is important because you have to think of your partner and who he is. Can he truly provide what you’re asking for? If you are on a tight budget, is it reasonable to expect him to take you to a 5-star restaurant for dinner? Be realistic.
4. Lovingly tell your partner what it is you want or need. Explain what the holiday means to you. Let him know that when he does certain things for you, it makes you feel . . . . . . . (cared for, loved, special). Help him understand why it is important.
5. Finally, ask him if there is anything you can do that will help him give you what you need for Valentine’s Day. Then be sure to do it. If he asks you to make the reservations or send him a reminder text, then do it. Yes, I realize that it seems that we’re gifting ourselves, but not really. It’s about helping him be successful at making you happy.
The most important lesson in all of this, ladies, is that it is unfair to expect a man to think or behave as a woman does; and that is frequently what we do. This leads to unmet expectations, disappointment, and failure for him. In the words of Dr. Phil, "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?" Avoid disappointment this Valentine's Day for both you and your partner!