Feb. 14 is a day that couples and singles anticipate with equal excitement and dread. We wonder: What will I give my significant other that is fun and meaningful, yet not cheesy? Will this finally be the year I can spend Valentine’s Day with someone special? How do I make this day just go away?
As Catholics, we know that true love is more than candy hearts and bouquets of roses, but that doesn’t erase our hopes and expectations for this day. For those in relationships, a well-planned Valentine’s Day can remind couples of their fond feelings for each other while an unhappy Valentine’s Day can be the breaking point for an flailing union.
One study shows that Valentine’s Day has a “catalyzing effect” on relationship dissolution. In the study, unhappy couples were more likely to break up before or directly after the holiday compared to the rest of the year, while those in strong, healthy relationships were not affected by Valentine’s Day. Another study shows that divorce filings around Valentine’s Day have increased by 40 percent in recent years.
So what is it about Valentine’s Day that makes struggling couples more likely to call it quits after Feb. 14?
Let’s face it: Women especially hope their Valentine’s Day will unfold like a cheesy jewelry commercial, complete with a dramatic gift opening, a tender embrace and an emotional lip lock. So when that doesn’t happen, we wonder if we’re missing out on the special moments we assume our peers are experiencing (which of course they aren’t, at least to that extent).
A botched Valentine’s Day can also bring to mind other unpleasant memories or relationship insecurities. Maybe he or she doesn’t get along with your friends or has issues with communication. If Feb. 14 passes without so much as a heartfelt card, I can guarantee that at least one member of the unhappy couple will be dwelling on those other issues.
It comes down to the fact that we all desire to feel special and loved, so on days like Valentine’s Day, we want to feel showered in love like our society says we should. For couples in a rocky stage who are questioning their relationship, Valentine’s Day is a reminder that something is off. Then comes the inner turmoil, the difficult conversations and then the parting of ways we call a break-up. A box of chocolates can’t erase that pain.
So whether your relationship is new like mine or well-tested or if you’ll be spending February 14 with friends or family, don’t let this Hallmark holiday dictate your feelings about love. Remember that in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter if you send or receive flowers, cook a gourmet dinner or spend the evening like any other Tuesday.
True, life-giving relationships will always withstand outside pressures, including a silly thing like Valentine’s Day.
Wondering how to spend Valentine’s Day this year? Here are some ideas, straight from CatholicMatchers: