Can we guys catch our breaths first? At least the rest of the year we are home free. Well, except for Mother's Day, her birthday, our anniversary, and any other day she expects us to remember (some couples celebrate their first date or kiss - argh!). Oh, man, the expectations!
- Remember (Honestly, it is kind of hard to forget when everyone else is celebrating at the same time. A lot of us could use that kind of help when it comes to remembering our anniversary).
- Buy her something.
- Show up.
So if everything is done for men on Valentine's Day, what's so bad about it? Before I answer that let's consider a little more how difficult and outright painful Valentine's Day can be for guys.
First, there is the picking of a card. Is there anything more painful (or embarrassing) than having to stand in the greeting card aisle with all the other lonely hearts hunting for that perfect combination of graphic, message, and low price? And, yes, you can put a price on love when it comes to how much money you give to Hallmark.
Second, a lot of guys become a bit paralyzed by the questions in their head -- "What does she expect? Will it be right? Is this enough?" This experience has to be a lot like what the bomb squad guy is thinking as he disables the bomb, "Have I thought of everything?"
Finally, despite all of the challenges surrounding Valentine's Day, most of us guys have a routine down. We know the minimum we have to do and we get it done, albeit often rushed at the very last minute. Unfortunately, what we often do not do is put any extra thought or effort into it, and so there is typically little to no variation or creativity.
Valentine's Day is bad for us men because it enables us to be lazy. Sadly, too many of us only practice expressing how we feel about our partner when we are reminded or forced to by a holiday. The consequence of our lack of effort is that our partner can feel really alone in the relationship.
A guy told me last week that Valentine's Day should probably really be every day. He's right in the sense that we should be thinking about our partner and wanting to be loving towards them every day. Before the insight of this guy impresses you, he did not come up with that on his own, he was just summarizing the advice I had given him after we had talked through what he should do for his wife on Valentine's.
If you are a guy and were given the task to do something today to show your partner you love her, what would you do? You have been given no warning in advance, so there is no time to prepare, you have just got to think on your feet and come up with something loving. Should it really be that hard? Well it is for a lot of men and Valentine's Day does not help change this weakness.
For men to become better partners we need to practice Valentine's Day every day, not just on February 14th. So my challenge to myself and all other men is to do in some small way a Valentine's-like act a couple of times a week in the weeks following the holiday too. Loving our partner should not be something we do by following the crowd.