Those two words often send men into a state of panic and cause women to start gearing up for a fight if they aren’t showered with enough or the “right” gifts.
I realize I’m generalizing here, but the hype about Valentine’s Day is part of the reason that my husband and I won’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day. Let me tell you a bit more about why we don’t celebrate this glorious day.
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Valentine’s Day in its original design may have been just fine, but like so many things in this day and age, it has been taken to the extreme.
Men feel so much pressure to buy the right gift, to spend enough money, and to take their woman to the fanciest place in town. Why does he feel pressured to do this? Because if he doesn’t, either society or his sweetheart will feel that his efforts and his love are lacking. In fact, his greatest worry is that both society and his sweetheart will see his lack luster effort, at least according to their standards, as an insult to all things love.
Then there are the women. As the workplace, playgroups, or playgrounds are abuzz with women who are all swapping stories about Valentine’s Day gifts and celebrations gone bad, they are secretly gearing up for what surely is going to be their best Valentine’s Day ever! Jewelry, chocolate, beautiful roses, and maybe even a singing quartet to deliver all the goods will do…and of course she most certainly will not be cooking on Valentine’s Day.
Maybe you are not aware, but I will share that throughout our 20 years of marriage, my husband and I have walked through a couple of dry deserts when it came to our financial picture. In all honesty, there were more than just a couple of years that there was not so much as a mirage in that desert.
During those years, birthdays, Christmas, and even Valentine’s Day all fell victim to the checking account balance that hovered right around a big, fat zero. Really, we were fine with that. However, the perceptions of others about our lack of celebrating in a material way were downright astounding, particularly when it came to Valentine’s Day.
Even as our financial picture has gotten more vibrant, we actively choose to not celebrate Valentine’s Day, and it is because of what happened one year in particular while we were in a financial valley.
Although we were perfectly fine with not marking the day in grandiose fashion, both my coworkers and my husband’s coworkers were aghast at our decision. A few of my coworkers asked why I didn’t think I was worth anything on Valentine’s Day, even if it meant that we went into debt to mark the occasion, and his coworkers echoed that very same thing. I was worth it!
Actually, some of the things that my coworkers said about my husband were downright obscene to me as I happened to hear them talking when they thought I was out of earshot. I was fine with no candy, no flowers, and no singing quartet – why weren’t they?
Maybe there really was something wrong with me, I concluded, and in response to their reaction, I cried. I cried a lot, in fact, and my tears were primarily a result of the hard times we were in. I will note, however, that I still believe to this day that I wouldn’t have had any tears had it not been for the vicious women I worked with.
It was those women who made me feel as though I was worth nothing, not my husband.
I think there are numerous ways that my husband and I will forever make counter-cultural choices after having lived through such a trying time. I think there is something to be said for walking through a fire, which is the way that time in our life feels to some extent.
There are times when part of the journey we walk forever changes us, and that Valentine’s Day is one of them.
My husband and I feel no desire to flaunt our love for one another on Valentine’s Day, even when we have the financial means to do so. We are not here to impress others through such displays, and really, our love is celebrated every day of the year. It is so easy to get caught up in all the hullabaloo, even if you don’t intend to.
Even more, we know there are those who are hurting because they would love to take part in the show of all things red roses and chocolate but simply can’t. We know that in all reality, there are other women whose love lives are being scrutinized for the gifts they do and don’t receive from their honey while there are also men who are being degraded, devalued, and made to feel as though they are less of a man because they can’t materially dote over their woman. It is out of sensitivity to these hurting people that we won’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, our hearts go out to you.
Rest assured, it is not a crime to forego celebrating Valentine’s Day, and the acts of love that are enacted, or not enacted, on this day are not a reflection of the love you have for one another in your hearts.
You can also find camaraderie in knowing that I won’t be receiving any flowers, diamonds, or gift certificates to a local spa on Valentine’s Day.
And that’s just fine by me.
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