Letting Go of Expectations on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day that you show the one you love how much you love them.  Often, though, I think we mistake that concept and simply imagine Valentine’s Day as a day for MEN to do something romantic for their wives or girlfriends.

When “dating”, my husband and I didn’t go on very many “dates.”  We did go on a few dates, but more often than not we’d just hang out at the Seminary or at church events.  We even took a class together and were able to spend time studying together!  There were a few special dates–like when he snagged some free tickets to the symphony and we got all dressed up and went.  So sweet!  And then there were LOTS of dates at the Fort Worth Water Gardens and the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens!  (Both are free, and both are beautiful!)


When we got married, I told my husband that I’d like him to just plan 3 “nice” dates per year.  One for our dating anniversary in September, one for our engagement anniversary in January, and one {extra special date} for our Wedding anniversary in May.  Those were the only guidelines I gave him.  A few months into our marriage, it was August (over a month before our anniversary), and I asked him if he’d made plans for our dating anniversary yet.  He said, “Not yet, but I will.”  Okay.  I waited, but I was a little aggravated that he hadn’t even started thinking about it yet.  I worried that he’d procrastinate and then would end up with a really lame date.  So I did what any woman would do in my shoes.  I “reminded” him every couple of days to make sure he planned it!  The week before our anniversary, he started asking me questions.  I answered his questions, but I was fuming inside.  You mean he STILL hasn’t gotten this all set?  But I didn’t say a word.  September 25th shows up, and right before we leave he starts pulling up Mapquest for directions.  You don’t even know how to get there, and I gave you MONTHS to plan!  Ughhhh!  As I stood there with my sarcastic smile on my face, tapping my foot, I mentally applauded myself for my EXTREME patience in not yelling at him.  I guess 5 months notice wasn’t enough time for him to plan one nice date.  He must not even care about making this a special day for me. 

He ended up taking me to this lake for a picnic.  The spot he picked out was where you couldn’t even get close to the lake, so we had to go exploring and find somewhere else to picnic.  When he opens the picnic basket, there’s a sparkling cider with glasses, and 2 sub sandwiches–that were filled with food I don’t like.

I continued to pridefully act as if I wasn’t mad, but I barely talked to him.  I smiled, gave obligatory nods and “hmmm…’s” as he talked.  He would ask if I was okay, and I’d tell him I was just tired, or cold, or that I didn’t like the sandwich.  I never told him that I hated the date.  That it wasn’t even close to living up to my expectations.  I was miserable the entire time, and so was he.  I had asked him to plan this date, and had given him no direction on what I wanted.  He read my loud sighs clearly, and knew that he didn’t measure up.  On the way home, he apologized that it didn’t go well.  And then he said, “I’m not even sure what I could have done to make it better.”

Do you want to guess what followed his apology?  You probably guessed it!  The LIST!  You know which list I’m talking about.  The one where I ravage him with every detail of everything I disapproved of.  “You don’t know what you could have done differently?  Well, let me tell you!!”  And I did.  I told him how he didn’t put any effort into planning.  He should have asked around to find a good picnicking spot rather than googling something for “2 minutes”.  He should have checked the sandwiches to make sure there was something I liked.  Actually, he should have realized that sandwiches are totally unromantic anyways and picked something else.  He should have found directions, and made sure he knew how to get there before today.  I basically told him that he was a failure as a husband–an unromantic guy who obviously didn’t care at all about pleasing me.

Only–looking back, it seems like there was only one person on that date who put any effort into doing something nice for the other one.  And it wasn’t me.  And oh yeah, a picnic by the lake?  What an incredibly romantic date that could have been if I hadn’t been so busy judging everything!  Most women would LOVE that!  5 years later, I’m thinking that if my husband did that again for me right now, I’d absolutely melt!

So what was the problem, then?  It was me.  I was the problem.  I told him to plan a date, and expected him to plan the same exact date I had planned out in my head.  Only that’s not possible.  So he thought about it.  He asked a few guy friends, and he searched the internet.  He found a sandwich shop and ordered our food.  He bought sparkling cider and made sure to pack our two wine glasses.  He thought he had covered everything.  He had covered everything, but one thing:  His selfish wife’s unrealistic expectations.  The day was miserable because of me.  If I had dropped my expectations I could have had a really great time!  I could have enjoyed the view of the beautiful lake!  I could have enjoyed watching the sunset.  I could have enjoyed my husband.  Instead, we were both miserable and the date flopped.

I’m sure this is why so many men HATE Valentine’s Day!  Many men have just stopped trying, because they don’t think it’s possible to please their wives anyway.

So then, what do we women do?  Well, let’s get back to the beginning:

“Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day that you show the one you love how much you love them.”

We women should do exactly this!  Use Valentine’s Day as a time to show the one you love how much you love him!  Quit worrying about what he does or doesn’t do for you.  Just aim to please him.  Aim to love him!  Aim to do something special and romantic for him, or with him.  Aim to bless your husband!

What are YOUR Valentine’s plans?

Notice I said “YOUR plans”, Not “HIS plans.”  What are YOU planning to do to make him feel loved?  Here are my plans:

Wake up and make heart-shaped pancakes.  Top them with strawberries & whipped cream.  Mid-morning, the boys and I will make some heart cookies, and then we’ll decorate them and eat a few!  If I have time, we might make some homemade Valentine’s with simple construction paper and crayons.  During the boys’ naps I will work on dinner.  On the meal plan is individual chicken poppyseed casseroles.  I have a few cute small baking dishes that I’ll use.  We’ll have rolls, and a few other sides, and I even picked up some new wine glasses and sparkling red grape juice for Lane and I.  I’ll decorate the table, and have candles, and I’ll text Lane that morning while he’s out and ask him to bring home fresh flowers.  (And I’ll be pleased with whichever ones he picks out!)  I’ll arrange them the best I can in a small vase, which isn’t my strong suit–but I’ll try!  I picked out a beautiful pink dress to wear from Le Tote!  (So excited to get it in!)  And then after dinner we’ll enjoy eating a few more cookies that the boys and I made.  I’m super excited about it!  The power to have a WONDERFUL Valentine’s Day is in my hands, no matter who is planning the day.  It really doesn’t matter what Lane does for me.  I know it will be a great day, and I know how great it will feel to see his smile as he looks at a beautiful dinner table that evening.

Now, don’t forget to tell me YOUR plans in the comments!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love, Rachel  🙂