Dear New Shrink,

I have a question regarding Valentine’s Day. It is something that has bothered me for years now.

I am happily married to a man I generally get along with quite well. We have two lovely children and overall, I am satisfied and believe that he is too.

But we have a total disagreement regarding Valentine’s Day and actually, Mother’s Day as well.

My husband feels that all of these types of holidays are very commercial and completely hyped up for the monetary gain of restaurants, stores, jewelry shops, flower shops and so on.

He goes along with Christmas for the kids’ sake but doesn’t like the rest of it at all. He came from a family that does not celebrate birthdays after you turn 18.

I, on the other hand, came from a family that celebrates all of these things and when it comes to Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, I feel especially hurt because it seems like all the other wives and mothers around me are getting some really nice gifts from their husbands on these holidays.

My husband will take me to dinner for Mother’s Day but as many times as I have told him how much I need him to do something for me, he never buys me anything! He absolutely thinks I am being ridiculous and demanding.

But when some of my friends are getting diamonds on Valentine’s Day and I don’t even get a card, it really hurts.

Signed,

Upset Wife & Mother

Dear Upset Wife and Mother,

Thank you for writing in, I am sure you are not alone on this subject matter.

I hope I don’t disappoint you because I am not going to take sides; instead I want to present the facts, as I know them and some things for everyone to consider.

Valentine’s Day was originally supposed to have been named in honor of one or more martyred saints but in 1969 the Catholic Church took it off its religious calendar. There are many questions about the real facts pertaining to its origin. However, there has never been a question that it is a day for love and affection! It use to be that men wrote love letters and poems to their ladies of love but somewhere in the mid 20th century, greetings cards started to appear and prevail. It wasn’t until the 1980s that anyone was considering diamonds as a gift on Valentine’s Day. Prior to this, candy or flowers were sometimes offered up as a testament to love and actually, here in the U.S. we started to give cards or little candies to friends or relatives we were especially fond of as well.

Today, many of us send cards to people we care about without any romantic implication.

There is no question that capitalism has generated the commercial aspects of Valentine’s Day and just about every other holiday. Many people feel that the real meaning of a given holiday has been lost because of this.

On the other hand, it is hard to ignore the cards and gifts that are everywhere around us. Valentine’s Day gifts were already in the stores as soon as Christmas was over. Hang on because after Monday, it will be Easter.

What is the right thing to do? I think each and every couple and family should decide for themselves. What is the meaning of this for us? What is our intent? How do we want to respond and how do we want to spend our money?

The sad thing about your question is that you and your husband cannot come together on this. He really should have empathy for your hurt feelings and you should be able to discuss what you need without making him feel bad or guilty. You two need some communication with compassion.

Also, you say that your marriage is otherwise really good but that you fight over this one thing. Why? How did it become so big in your lives?

It’s difficult to some degree for all of us to avoid the influence of what others have or are getting. But maybe we really need to stop comparing our insides, be it feelings, relationships, possessions or whatnot, to what other people have.

Hope you have a loving and happy Valentine’s Day!

Dr. JoAnne Barge is a licensed psychologist and licensed marriage and family therapist with offices in Brentwood. Visit her at www.drbarge.com

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