Friday is the annual day of chocolate sales, flowers, lingerie and proposals to marry. It’s a day devoted to romance and idealistic views of relationships that were created by Disney, Hallmark and jewelry stores. It’s a lovely idea to have a day to focus on a relationship’s meaning and value.
But let’s be honest, this Valentine’s Day thing is really all about marketing. It’s about selling products and dreams, so we can sell even more products like engagement rings and wedding dresses.
How many women are dreaming that this Friday night their boyfriend will “pop the question” with an engagement ring that is equivalent to at least two months of his gross salary? Because they’re told that unless he does so, he doesn’t value you enough.
How many men are mustering up the courage to ask what is probably the most vulnerable question they’ll ever ask in their life, “Am I good enough for you?”
This Friday there will be loads of happy tears as anxious women get their fondest wish – to have a man drop to one knee, present a gorgeous ring and ask them to be their bride. Across the country men will be relieved when she says, “YES!” and for a few unlucky souls the croaked out no, will be ego and soul crushing.
For those poor souls who have to face the NOs I say, Thank Your Lucky Stars that your girlfriend had the emotional strength and wisdom to not give in to the pressure of looking good. She did you the biggest favor ever by not taking you both through a bad marriage that was based on false assumptions. You assumed she loved you as much as you loved her, be glad she was strong enough to know what is best for you both and act on it.
To those women who didn’t get the ask they wanted, I say the same thing. Be happy he didn’t give in to the pressure that is surely being put upon him to ask, by his mother who wants grandbabies, by the sister-in-law who wants to have a companion in the family, and the women in his life who wonder what it will take. He did you a favor if he’s not ready, or is not willing, to really commit.
Take it from the divorce lawyer – I’ve seen the damage that is done by people doing ‘what was expected’ and the lives that they upend. People know, at a cellular level when they are in love and when they are ready, forcing them to act in opposition to that is a mistake. It’s a costly mistake that ends up in my office with soul crushing misery, cheating spouses, betrayed loves and ego-destroying chaos.
I’m all in favor of those people who are certain, taking the opportunity of Valentine’s Day’s misty eyed, Cupid driven emotion to start the formation of their married life. It’s actually very important in long term relationships to have the types of moments and traditions that this brings. For example, one couple I know of, has a tradition of box of See’s Candies Dark Chocolate box on Valentine’s day, and a date night dinner AFTER VDay to avoid all the fanfare and overly dramatic couples who are putting on a show. They’ve been married for over 25 years now, so it seems to be working…
The thing that is most important in relationships, and in life, is not what you think it is. It’s not the giant diamond ring, it’s not the Ferrari 488. It’s the memories and the experiences that create long term happiness. Money, property and prestige are all wonderful, but they are just things. Things can go away. No matter who you are, if it’s a material thing, it can be taken from you. But memories, those suckers last.
A wise man once told me that, “you can’t make anyone else happy, you can only make them happier.” So this Valentine’s Day, do something special and unique for the one you love – give them an experience they won’t forget. Whether it is booking a three day cruise out of Long Beach to Mexico to get away from the kids, (you can find great deals on the Cruise Deals App) or a month long tour of the South Pacific, keep your eye on the long term, and you’ll be much more likely to stay in a happy and healthy relationship.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra