|Written by Michele Weiner-Davis
Mention Valentine’s Day, and it’s bound to conjure up the same mental image for nearly everyone: Romantic dinners at candlelit restaurants, Godiva chocolates, two dozen long-stem roses, sentimental Hallmark cards.
But what if your relationship is on the rocks and Valentine’s Day is just another painful reminder that your life isn’t what you hoped it would be? Then what do you do? I know, this isn’t exactly an uplifting topic, but the truth is, the vast majority of people in my practice are not exactly big Valentine’s Day enthusiasts. My practice generally consists of one spouse who desperately wants out of the marriage and the other who wants nothing more than to live happily ever after. So, February 14th often means hurt, confusion and loneliness . And I would venture a guess that there are many, many non-clinical couples who, though not on the brink of divorce , feel an emotional distance that has them wishing Valentine’s Day would just pass without fanfare.
So, what can you do if a romantic dinner and words of affirmation are not on the agenda for you this year? First, have a plan regarding how you will approach the day. Get some feedback from friends, family or a therapist regarding questions like, “Should I buy my wife a card or get her a gift when I know she is pulling away?” “Would it be a good idea to simply ignore the day or would my spouse take offense?” “I would love to plan a romantic dinner but I don’t know if my husband would feel too pressured.” “We’re separated. Should I even email or text my wife?”
Next, if you’re not going to be with the one you love, plan something nice for yourself.
When I asked people what they could do to avoid throwing a pity party on Valentine’s Day, here’s what some had to say:
“Spa treatments always make me feel special”
“I’m hoping my ‘rocky’ Valentine’s Day turns out better than I’m expecting, but if not, I still plan on getting a new haircut and a facial.”
And I like this one the most- “My children and I began a new Valentine`s day tradition. We have a big tea party complete with tea sandwiches and scones. I write love notes to each child and we have a lot of fun. Valentine’s Day lost its meaning when my husband and I were separated and I decided to make it special regardless of my situation. He has been home now for over 3 years but we still continue this new tradition and celebrate together as a couple in the evening.”
So, while those of us who are fortunate enough to be with spouses who share our desire to celebrate our connection, years together, children, and history, we should be mindful of those who, for this year, at least, have missed Cupid’s arrow.