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No, I'm Not Buying My Wife Flowers for Valentine’s Day

Every year, sometime right after Groundhog Day, my wife will turn to me and say, "Oh God, you're not getting me anything for Valentine's Day, are you?"

I will immediately shoot her back my most incredulous look possible. "No, why? You didn't make plans, did you?"



And then our shoulders sag in sweet, sweet relief and we go back to watching the second season of "Fargo" on DVR.


My wife and I have known each other for 20 years and we've been married for 16 of those years. In all that time, it has never once occurred to us to actually "celebrate" Valentine's Day. It has just never come up in a serious way. Sure, we're aware of Valentine's Day. We occasionally have to visit a CVS between late December and February, so it would be impossible to completely ignore it. But we've just never really seen the point.

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Now, to be clear, my problem with Valentine's Day isn't the age-old complaint that it's a Hallmark holiday, that it's a soulless corporate creation meant to stimulate the economy more than my spouse. I have no issue with the origins of Valentine's Day. I like dumb traditions and wacky holidays. So, my problem isn't that Valentine's Day exists. My problem is that Valentine's Day is so poorly defined.

Because what the hell IS Valentine's Day, really?

Is my daughter supposed to be acknowledging that she loves her classmates? Because she doesn't.

It isn't actually about romance. I mean, that's the marketing pitch, right? That Valentine's Day is the most romantic day of the year? It's the day where you're supposed to have a special night out with your loved one, buy chocolates, eat an over-priced meal, exchange "love gifts," and feel obligated to bring your A-game to the bedroom, correct? Is that the point?

Because that doesn't sound romantic to me. That sounds like work. That sounds like a drag.

As a long-married man, I understand that it's easy to neglect the romantic side of your relationship, and, yes, you do need to check in from time to time and remind your partner that, as the song says, "there ain't no sunshine when they're gone." So, maybe Valentine's Day has some value in that regard, but it couldn't be a clunkier, more shallow way to remind someone that you love them.

If I suddenly planned a gigantic romantic gesture for my wife on Valentine's Day, it would be the equivalent of those people who ONLY go to church on Christmas and Easter. Who do they think they're fooling? They're not being pious. They're hedging their bets. They are doing the least amount of work possible to keep thinking of themselves as "religious" people.

That's how I feel when I see a couple out for a date night on February 14. Seriously, guys? THIS makes you feel romantic? You couldn't plan a night out in June or November? You could only work up the steam to be romantic on the most obvious day of the year?

Valentine's Day feels disingenuous to me, and I'm lucky that my wife feels the same way. And the holiday gets even more confusing once you have a kid.

Because how do you explain the point of Valentine's Day to a child? You can't delve into the romance angle too deeply because, you know, they're like 6 years old, but there's not much more to the holiday than its weird pantomime of the mating ritual. So, for children, you find yourself trying to sell V-Day as some kind of "Love Day," a celebration of all things lovey, which, again, doesn't make a ton of sense.

All they know is that, on February 14, they have to buy every kid in their class a cheap piece of paper with a Minion or Ant-Man on it. Paper hearts will be exchanged, completely devoid of emotion, and they'll be forced to choke down the chalkiest candy ever created, solely because it's shaped like a heart and has "Be Mine" stamped on it.

What's romantic about that? How does that have anything to do with love? Is my daughter supposed to be acknowledging that she loves her classmates? Because she doesn't. She likes them a lot, but giving them hearts and love messages feels really odd and confusing.

Valentine's Day feels like an excuse.

I have tried and failed to explain Valentine's Day to my daughter and, if I'm being honest, I've never been able to explain it to my wife either.

Fortunately, my wife feels the same way. To us, Valentine's Day feels like an excuse. It's an excuse for children to eat candy. It's an excuse to have a red-frosted cupcakes at work. It's an excuse to buy stuff, dress up and have a night out. And there's some value to that. Who doesn't like candy, cake and presents? But I'm not going to call that romance.

Romance should mean more, cost more and require more effort. Valentine's Day is like the Cliff Notes of romance and, once my wife and I realized how seriously we took our relationship, we simply couldn't imagine accepting such an abbreviated form of affection for one another.

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So, if you have a hot date scheduled for February 14 and your partner is into it, good for you. Meanwhile I will probably sit on a couch next to my wife and maybe check my phone while she watches "Gilmore Girls" on Netflix. And, as she slowly falls asleep on my shoulder, in the same way that she has thousands of nights before, I will feel more love in those familiar, intimate seconds than I ever could during a 15 percent off couples massage or steak dinner.

Ultimately, we don't celebrate Valentine's Day because we have no use for it. And that's the best possible gift we could ever give each other.

Photograph by: Tom Burns

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