Answering Valentine’s Day Questions Diane Gottsman addresses six scenarios that will help you keep Valentine’s Day about love not hype. BY DIANE GOTTSMAN
Remember that this day is about being thoughtful and love.
Valentine’s Day is supposed to be an occasion to celebrate love and romance. Instead, it often turns into an anxiety-producing, expectation-riddled competition that can lead to disappointment and frustration, especially in one’s marriage.
Here are a few questions from people suffering from what I call "Valentine’s Envy" and how you should answer them to keep the focus on love instead of hype this year.
1. Every Valentine's Day my best friend’s husband does something over-the-top. For instance, one year he surprised her with a weekend trip to the Caribbean, spending hours secretly planning the entire trip at a beachside resort, including the arranging for her mother to come stay with their kids. It’s hard for me to be excited for her when I know my husband will just buy me a box of cheap chocolates and think he did enough. How should I respond?
With a straight face and in all honesty say something like, "Gee Sara, how fortunate you are to have a husband who went to so much trouble to make your Valentine's Day special. I can't help but feel a little twinge of jealousy, but I'm glad we’re such good friends and I'll share my chocolate with you if you will give me all the details when you get back."
2. How do I tell my husband that a skimpy bouquet of grocery store flowers is not going to cut it for Valentine’s Day? I would really like a more thoughtful gift this year.
Valentine's Day is for lovers and your loving husband deserves an "E" for effort—even if a skimpy bouquet of grocery flowers is the last thing you want this Valentine's Day. I always make the reference: you don't get if you don't ask. So perhaps you could say to your husband, "This Valentine's Day, I would love for you to get me something that reminds you of me—not expensive or elaborate, but something that I can look at throughout the year, or think about and it will remind me of how much we love one other." Whew, that's a lot of work for your significant other; and whatever you happen to receive, act gracious and appreciative.
3. Each Valentine’s Day, there’s a stream of flower deliveries in our office. It almost feels like a competition to see who gets the biggest bouquet of flowers from a boyfriend or husband. Money is tight in our household this year and we have cut all extras out of the budget. How do I explain—or at least not feel completely humiliated—when I don’t get any flowers?
Although it's hard to overlook all of the beautifully fragrant bouquets and excited squeals of joy, stay focused on why you are not receiving your own bouquet—the goal of a debt-free life. You do not owe anyone an explanation except to say, "How beautiful!" You may add something like, "I'm excited to go home tonight—we plan to have a special celebration with our family." I bet that many people would trade places in a heartbeat with you if they had the option of getting out of debt as a family goal.
4. I am about to give up. Each Valentine’s Day I try to do something special for my wife: candy, flowers and a card. Even though she smiles and thanks me, it always seems like she’s kind of disappointed. Where am I going wrong?
Doing something sweet for your wife is never "wrong," even if it may not be exactly what she desires. Why not shoot straight and say, "I would really like to do something special for you this Valentine's Day and would love your input. Please tell me what I can do that would make your heart sing?"
5. It seems that in recent years, Valentine’s Day has turned into Christmas, with cards and gifts for everyone—from my spouse to family members and friends. Where should you draw the line?
You should never feel obligated to give a Valentine gift. However, if you are married, it's a courtesy to express your love or affection with a token or heartfelt gesture. Where you should "draw the line" is a personal decision. Children are deserving of a Valentine's card, nannies, grandparents and close friends are also appreciative of a handwritten card or small token of appreciation. Give to whom you choose and who will most appreciate your efforts.
There are no hard and fast gift giving rules for Valentine's Day except that the gift should be representative of your relationship. That said, the primary factor should be consideration of your Valentine.
6. What do yellow roses signify on Valentine's Day?
Yellow roses are less romantic than red roses and are usually reserved for friends. Red roses signify love while yellow generally mean friendship or a new start. Some say yellow roses with red tips are a sign that the friendship is taking a turn to romantic feelings. So be sure to take this into consideration before sending the wrong message!
Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.