I don’t like Valentine’s Day too much. Historically, a lot of pressure has been put on me by myself (and maybe some others) to perform inspiring romantic gestures on command, the “command” being the day itself. Expectations are high for some significant action demonstrating a certain amount of love and/or affection. The problem for me is that I can’t feel love or affection on command. I feel it when I feel it and when I am told to feel it, as in a holiday deliberately contrived to MAKE people feel it, I don’t really feel it. I don’t like being told what to do.
Now, I am not a complete idiot, so I try to respond appropriately with a card and some flowers, maybe some chocolate and a thoughtful gift. My problem is the thoughtful gift. I don’t know what that is. I currently have really no idea what constitutes a thoughtful gift to my wife. Most of the year, this is not a problem for me, but come Valentine’s Day, I struggle. It’s a case of “I know it when I see it.”
Some days, I can walk through the supermarket and see a certain item and “know” that she would like it. From a can opener to a fresh, ripe pineapple, I know it when I see it and these gifts are usually well-received. A thoughtful gift does not rely on “thought”, it relies on a “feeling” or a sense that “she would like this” or “this says something that I want her to know”. I cannot force this feeling and for this reason, Valentine’s Day sucks. I feel like a phony if I can’t conjure up the feelings that I think I should have.
This year, a strange and welcome admission was made by my wife: she struggles with Valentine’s Day, too. I tried not to look too excited as she told me, but was likely unsuccessful. I was and am excited because the pressure was off. She understood and her understanding eliminated my fear of falling short of her expectations and this was good. I can now move easily through this holiday with the feelings I am probably supposed to feel. I am unburdened by the perception that I need to be romantic, because everybody else is. This is a liberating idea and a real game-changer.
Following my wife’s revelation, I felt very romantic. I remembered why I love her so much. Earlier, while deep in the heart of my desperation trying to make myself feel this way, I was frustrated and rather resentful about the whole thing. Not anymore. I think I finally get it. After 10 years of marriage, I finally get it: My wife doesn’t really care about what I give her, as long as I want to give it. While this idea has some limitations, it is not faulty. With this in mind, from now one, I think I can finally warm up to this holiday…and it’s about damn time…I will suffer no more…
[EDITOR'S NOTE:"Feel Good Friday" is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: "Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!" Also, you can "friend" Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]