February 9th, 2014
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Valentine’s Day has roots in ancient Rome, when they had a three day ritual to increase fertility. This festival was then replaced by a feast day to focus on Saint Valentine, who was the patron saint of lovers. In current day, it has become a commercial holiday, much like what Christmas has become for many people. For many couples though, Valentine’s Day is a beautiful opportunity to let their partner know how much they mean to them.
Valentine’s Day does not need to cost a lot of money. It could be as simple as writing a poem, giving a massage, or making a nice dinner at home. However, Canadians do tend to shell out the bucks on this special occasion. Last year, the average Canadian household spent $37 on Valentine’s gifts (reference: Retail Council of Canada), with a huge range from $5 to hundreds of dollars. Candy, cards, flowers, jewelry and lingerie were the most popular items.
Social media is such an integral part of our lives these days. It’s where we go to express ourselves and see what is going on in the lives of others. It is a venue to share the good, the bad and the ugly. It is no different for Valentine’s Day. In 2012, Radian6 (social media monitoring platform), found that there were over eight million Valentine’s Day mentions across the major social networking sites. 8 Million! That’s a lot of pressure. It is pressure on couples to celebrate the holiday. It is also pressure on single people, reminding them of the societal expectation that they be in a relationship.
Do couples celebrate Valentine’s Day because they want to or because it is expected? Couples usually have an opportunity to celebrate their union on dates that are special to them- such as their anniversary. So if Valentine’s Day wasn’t marketed so widely as a commercial holiday, I wonder whether couples would recognize it. In any case, the romantic part of me wants to think that couples do celebrate it because they want to show their partner how much they love them. It is extremely important in relationships not to take each other for granted, and to take the time to let the other person know how much you appreciate them. So, personally, as a couples counsellor, I’m all for Valentine’s Day! My advise is to keep it a simple and genuine expression of your love for one another.
Valentine’s Day can remind a couple how much they care about each other, which is wonderful. However, if there is disappointment involved (“Whoops- is today Valentine’s Day?! I forgot!”), that can be a real setback in relational happiness.
There is all too much pressure to go out of your way for your partner on Valentine’s Day. The secret is to not just save that for this one day of the year. The secret to a happy and satisfied relationship is to make a point of showing your partner that you care throughout the entire year. Make the effort to treat your spouse like royalty on a regular basis! Bring home a special surprise you know they would like, on any random day of the year. Tell them that you love them DAILY, and go on a date night WEEKLY. Great marriages take hard work and continual effort.
For those without a romantic someone this Valentine’s, resist the urge to sink into a deep depression and go through an entire box of chocolates you bought for yourself. Get together with some other single people and have your own celebration! My usual advise for single people who want to be in a relationship is usually to visualize and actually write out a list of all the qualities that you are searching for in an ideal mate. Who knows, maybe by this time next year, you will be with that special someone.
Thank-you to Amanda Jemmett, Journalism Student with Sheridan College, for approaching me with a bunch of thoughtful questions about Valentine’s Day, that inspired me to write this blog post.