Avoid disappointment on Valentine’s Day with communication

Comox Valley columnist discusses how to avoid disappointment on the annual day of love

Valentine’s Day is coming up and I am already starting to feel disappointed. My husband never brings me flowers. I don’t usually care about presents, but I keep hoping that I will get flowers on Valentine’s Day. My friends all seem to get flowers from their husbands and when I don’t get them from mine, I feel disappointed and unloved. Then I feel guilty for feeling bad about not getting flowers. Other than cancelling Valentine’s Day, is there anyway to stop feeling this way?

You aren’t alone in feeling disappointed when your expectations for Valentine’s Day aren’t met. This is the case for many people.

Fortunately, there is something you can do about this situation and it doesn’t require doing away with Valentine’s Day.

The first thing you can do is let your husband know what your expectations are regarding this day. It may be that he has a different idea about Valentine’s Day and he just isn’t aware that you have expectations that he isn’t meeting.

The thought of telling your husband that you would like to receive flowers might be uncomfortable, but it is part of clear communication, and clear communication builds stronger relationships.

Find a time to tell him when you are calm; in the middle of an argument over something else is not a good time to bring it up. . .”Oh, yeah, and another thing. . . you never bring me flowers on Valentine’s day.”

Let him know that you feel disappointed when he doesn’t bring you flowers and that this year it would be really good if he did. Chances are he not only doesn’t know what is expected, but he doesn’t know the impact his not bringing flowers has on you.

It might be helpful for you to know that there are several ways to communicate love and that the giving and receiving of gifts is a valid part of the language of love. (You might want to read the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.)

Love is communicated through talking. Telling each other about the love you bear for one another is an obvious way of expressing love. It is important to tell your partner not only that you love them, but what you love about them!

Love is communicated through doing things for each other. In performing special kindnesses or thoughtful acts, you let your partner know that you are thinking about them, that they are important to you and that you love them.

Things like topping up the oil in the car or picking up a carton of favorite ice cream or making a meal are also ways to say “I love you.”

Love is communicated through spending time together. When you choose to spend time with someone, you are letting them know that they are loved, that they are worthwhile and that you want to be with them.

Love is communicated through physical intimacy. Right from the moment of birth touch plays an important role in letting us know we are loved. When touch is comfortable for both partners, everything from holding hands to sexual intercourse can be a way to say “I love you.”

Finally, love is communicated through gift giving. It is the message of the gift that is usually important. The size or the cost of the gift is usually insignificant compared to the thought and it is the thought that conveys the message of love.

A little reality check might also be helpful. Valentine’s Day has become a part of our culture, but it is also a marketing campaign that idealizes love and conveys the message that love is about the giving and receiving of gifts and that the ultimate day to acknowledge love is Feb 14.

The idea of honouring love and relationships and romance is not a bad one, and maybe the idea of making this a cultural celebration is not necessarily a bad idea either, but it is OK to step outside the prescribed marketing images and ideas of how to celebrate, honour and express love.

Couples can make choices about how to integrate or not integrate the idea of Valentines’ Day into their relationship. Hopefully, expressions of love are not limited to just one day each year!

If you would like to ask a question of the counsellors, for a response in future columns, e-mail them at askpacific@shaw.ca. Consult a Counsellor is provided by the registered clinical counsellors at Pacific Therapy & Consulting: Nancy Bock, Diane Davies, Leslie Wells and Andrew Lochhead. It appears every second Friday.

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