Valentine’s Day :: Romantic Event, or Yet Another Obligation?

It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Ugh. GREAT! Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband. I love romance. I love, well, LOVE. But a day with so much emphasis on society’s definition of romance is a little much for me. Celebrating Valentine’s Day has evolved over the years for my husband and me, and though there is still some form of celebration on February 14, it always feels so forced and full of obligation. And if I’ve learned one thing from my non-resolutions, it’s that my list of obligations is already full. I can’t add manufactured love to my plate.

Don’t get me wrong — we used to celebrate Valentine’s Day big. Early in our marriage, we used Christmas to shower the kids with gifts and attention, and then we’d celebrate each other on Valentine’s Day. But it wasn’t really Valentine’s-y. It was more “Christmas take 2” and was mainly due to the fact that it made financial sense to spread out the spending on gifts. So, it just worked out that way.

Then, once our financial situation improved and we were able to give each other gifts on Christmas, we kept Valentine’s Day as a time for the two of us to just be together. We would get a babysitter and go out to dinner, or we might put the kids to bed then have our own dinner afterward, playing a board game or watching a movie in peace and quiet. Then our kids got older, and we could do that sort of date night whenever we wanted.

So now? Valentine’s Day has become more stress and less fun.

My husband and I still make an effort to date each other all year, so a day of fighting for a restaurant reservation or waiting an hour to be seated at a local eatery seems like the least fun I could have on a night out. Movies and any other fun date night outing, like our favorite escape rooms, have been sold out for a few weeks. But if we go out on February 15 instead? No lines, and no waiting!

I got to a point where there was so much pressure to have a perfect, romantic Valentine’s Day, that I was making something happen just to do SOMETHING. Then, it hit me.

Why on earth am I making this so complicated?

I hate planning dates ahead of time. My husband hates when I over plan. I despise large crowds, and my husband prefers low-maintenance events. So, why all the pressure to base our entire relationship on this one night? The stress far outweighs any fun we might have on February 14.

So, we scrapped it.

Now, we order pizza so no one has to cook dinner or clean dishes. We throw a family movie on and snuggle up on the couch so no one has to get dressed or plan an activity. We tuck the kids in for bed and call it a night. We make a date night plan on our own schedule for some time in February. And our marriage is stronger for it.

I applaud those who make Valentine’s Day a holiday to remember, and if you are one of those people, I’m around to babysit your kids that night! I stand with those who feel unnecessary pressure from the holiday — no matter your relationship status. And I love all of you who skip the chocolates so there are plenty in stock for that day-after 50% off sale!

Michelle is a lifelong New Englander, living in Stoneham and working in Charlestown.  She is a preschool and toddler teacher at a small private preschool.  She holds a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education, which has come in useful at both work and home.  She has a supportive stay-at-home-dad for a husband, and is a mom of five children.  She has three boys in Middle and High School as well as two girls in Elementary School.  She teaches Infant and Toddler classes for Early Ed teachers, runs workshops for parents through Boston Naps, and runs her own business, The Parenting Survival Expert, offering parenting tips and support.  In her spare time, she can be found reading a murder mystery novel, sipping far too much coffee and dreaming of a home in the mountains.


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