If your fourth grade experience was anything like mine, Valentine's Day meant decorating the classroom with paper hearts and cutting, coloring, gluing and writing Valentine's intended for exchange with our classmates. Sure, there was some tension involved when we wondered how our cards would be received by a "favorite" girl but, for the most part, it was good, clean fun.
How I wish that were still true as an adult.
I have lived through many, many Valentine's Days since fourth grade. Prior to my February 14, 2000 marriage to Bette, I can't recollect too many wonderful Valentine's Days. Since then, they have all been great because we create days that work for us both. However, before I met Bette I can remember years when February 14th was a real disappointment, either because of inflated expectations or just plain lousy food and service.
Since February 14th is a totally made up "occasion," and one which causes untold distress for many men and women alike, why don't we try fitting Valentine's Day into our lives instead of shoehorning our lives into Valentine's Day? And, if you're single, either by choice or by circumstance, reject any notion that you're "less than" just because you're not part of a "couple."
If you want to make this year special, for you and for a special man in your life, here are seven suggestions for Valentine's Day success as offered from a man's point of view:
February 14, 2011 falls on a Monday. On a day when restaurants are recovering from their busy weekend, many will be pushing an overpriced, overhyped, prix-fixe dinner rushed out of the kitchen to an overcrowded room by overworked wait staff. It's a workday for most of us, the lucky ones who still have jobs, so we now have to shift from a full business day to creating a memorable romantic evening... because why?
If you're going out to eat, wouldn't it be better to enjoy the restaurant when they can be their best? Why not offer to celebrate one evening during the weekend before or after Valentine's Day? You'll have more privacy, better service and your food will likely be far more carefully prepared.
Men love romance. We do! We love to see your eyes sparkle, your skin glowing, and your hair shining in the evening light. We want to you be happy most of all. The problem is that Valentine's Day forces us to create romance on demand. There's no freedom to be spontaneous. Valentine's Day turns what would otherwise be appreciated as gifts of generosity into delivering what's expected. Yuck.
In "Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women" we discuss getting what you need and what will make you happy. On Valentine’s Day, what you need is whatever would make you upset if you didn't get it. Being told you're loved and cherished, or appreciated in another way, might be a need for many. Time alone with a loved one, a time when you feel special, could be needed by many as well. A $200 dinner plus card, flowers, chocolates and champagne? Is that really something you need? Or is it something our culture says you should have?
Let him know what you need from him to feel loved and special, and then allow him to provide it in his own way. Also, be specific about what would make you happy. "Honey, after I've snuggled in your arms and read the card you chose just for me, what would make me happy is a 20-minute foot rub. I'd also be really happy if we could celebrate by going to that great restaurant we both love, but instead of on Valentine's Day, I'd prefer either this weekend or next, when it won't be so crowded."
Remember, men don't come with the ability to read women's minds, but we so want to win with you. Unless you tell us, we won't know what you need and might likely guess wrong about what would make you happy. Don't make that mean we don't care. We care, but we're not women. We need your help. We also might need a reminder or two. Strategically placed Post-its, emails, voicemail messages, they all help keep us on track.
Men live for the appreciation of the women they love. Appreciation is the fuel that fires our engines. Please remember it's never our intention to disappoint you. If what was provided didn't match the picture you held in your mind well, we might not have had that picture. If the food or the flowers or the candy isn't perfect, that doesn't mean we wished otherwise. Appreciating his efforts will keep your man wanting to provide for you, and that let's you both win.
If Valentine's Day is about love, than who better to love than yourself? Take the time to reflect on everything that's wonderful in your life. List all the lives around you that you touch. Toast your own qualities and accomplishments. Give yourself something no one else would ever think of. Make the day your own. Or, ignore it completely. Whichever you choose makes it the right choice for you.
To read more from Michael Friedlander go to his website: www.UnderstandMenNewYork.com
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