Murphy’s Love: Advice on Intimacy and Relationships
DEAR STACY: My wife and I have a pretty great marriage. We have been together for more than 10 years, have kids and are each other’s best friend. But Valentine’s Day always presents a dilemma for me. She loves Valentine’s Day and I hate it. I think it’s a manufactured holiday that forces people to prove something that they already prove on a daily basis. She loves all the silly little parts of it (think teddy bears holding satin hearts). Every time I think about celebrating this stupid holiday, I get annoyed. I have tried to explain this to her, but she is a textbook hopeless romantic and always wants me to play along. In recent years I have tried to show her how useless a holiday it is by not really acknowledging it at all, which of course leads to a big fight. I’m not actually a jerk, but am I supposed to fake it with her just to make her happy? It doesn’t make any sense. We have the same fight every year. – Anti-Valentine’s Day
Dear Anti, Well, you have certainly made yourself known on this topic. Less than 200 words, and I have absolutely no doubt how you feel about Valentine’s Day, which probably means Wife and Kids also know how you feel. And yet, she continues to want to celebrate your love each year, like clockwork. You poor, poor thing. I actually do mean to be flip, but I will explain myself. You are very clear about how you feel about the holiday. Wife has done the same. Now you are pouting because she doesn’t agree with you. I’m not sure I don’t agree with you, actually, but you aren’t getting anywhere by grousing about it, not to mention the futility of trying to teach your best friend a lesson by ignoring her desire to celebrate your relationship. Couplehood – partnerships of all kind, really – demands that we spend a lot of time considering things from the other person’s point of view and then acting on that knowledge. You haven’t described Wife’s Valentine’s wants as being totally bizarre or even unmanageable, just “annoying” (they sell those teddy bears just about everywhere). What about focusing on the positive–your best friend loves it when you acknowledge her on Valentine’s Day. That’s a very easy way to make her feel cared for and loved. The memory of that feeling is the fuel that gets us through the inevitable rough patches in a relationship. Consider Valentine’s Day (and the ubiquitous, cheesy options for marking it) to be a foolproof, yet highly effective boost to your relationship energy and just get her the teddy bear.
Stacy Notaras Murphy www.stacymurphyLPC. com is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. This column is meant for entertainment only and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to firstname.lastname@example.org.