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What Did You Do on Valentine’s Day?

By Dr Mark Mywords

This year at Valentine’s Day, Christchurch’s Lite FM station thought it will treat at least one lucky listener to a “Mystery Gift” from the local “Peaches & Cream” store, which sells – you never guessed – sexware.

The store has been rather actively advertising on the radio for a while now trying to appeal to couples in a (more or less) stable relationship and, presumably, making buying sextoys less embrassing. Bold! The morning presenters topped it up by giving tips for a successful Valentine’s Day, mainly for guys, and the female presenter finished off with the cheerful remark “…and ladies, remember, Valentine’s Day works both ways.

We all know what the blokes want, so why the heck not give it to them?”

Yup, it’s one of those remarks that leaves a bit of a sour taste in your mouth; nevertheless there was a grain of truth in it inasmuch as it pointed to the way such occasions often go: guy entertains girl, gets sex in return.

Someone has found out that most men don’t really like Valentine’s Day all that much, and the reason being the same as struggling with wedding anniversaries: it puts you in the role of performer. You put on a show that will be judged in terms of how great your love is.

The better the restaurant, the more expensive the gift, the more surprising the surprises, the more you love her. At least, if that’s what you’ve done last year, you don’t want to do less this year, because of the way it could be interpreted.

And the worst bit is that she is sure to compare notes with all her girlfriends, so it becomes a kind of competition, which you will not want your wife to lose, if she is to stay happy. Perhaps the sex is not worth this effort, so let’s flag it altogether.

The problem is that to guys long-term relationships of the kinds that come with children can sometimes seem like one-way streets.

You make career choices to accomodate her life choices, perhaps put up with parenting you don’t really agree with, be loyal to her towards others even after the most bitter of fights, do the dishes when she tells you to and not when you think they need to be done (later).

You would never dream of asking for any acknowledgement for the way you care every day.

Sure, you love her and all that. Wouldn’t want it any other way. But being asked to express your love on occasions like Valentine’s Day maybe just doesn’t feel right. Why are you asked to declare your love again? Isn’t it obvious?

Ideally, Valentine’s Day, your wedding anniversary, or any days that have special meaning to the both of you, should be used to celebrate your relationship. We think of that in terms of a dinner together by candlelight, but you may actually feel more comfortable to rekindle an old common interest: go to the beach together and fool around in the waves; canoeing; climb a mountain; play pinball at the local TimeOut – stuff that perhaps you used to do and don’t do much anymore because of the kids.

No surprises – plan that day together.

And wouldn’t it be nice if there was a day where guys would get acknowledged by their partners? Now there’s a thought. Men wanting to be acknowledged? Isn’t that what you-know-what is for? How else does a woman acknowledge a man?

Hmmmm. Do you have the feeling that she appreciates what you do for the family and for her?

If you do, she probably tells you every now and then, and I have a hunch that that’s what makes you happy more than the feeling that she thinks you’re an absolute stud. If so, you probably don’t mind Valentine’s Day, maybe even look forward to such days. Valentine’s Day, like every day, does work two ways.

Next: Fatherhood Chinese Style

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