It’s that time of year. Jewelry commercials usurp our television time; florists slash prices on roses, and Victoria’s Secret catalogs come every other day in the mail. Yep, it’s Valentine’s Day—a time to rekindle romance and tell those around you that you love them. It’s also a time to help Hallmark and Kay Jewelers send their profits through the roof. I know I might sound cynical, but I have reason to be. My husband hates this holiday, so while other women are getting jewelry and roses, I get pizza take-out so I don’t have to cook that night. Hey, the thought is there.
Anyway, we were out to dinner with another couple last year, and I brought up my husband’s lack of romance about Valentine’s Day. At first, my friend’s husband toed the marital line and started to defend the holiday, but then a defiant look came over his face, and he looked at his wife and said,
“Okay, I hate this holiday too. It’s ridiculous.”
This man’s reaction got my journalist juices flowing, so I decided to conduct impromptu research about Valentine’s Day. What I found out is that it is not the holiday that turns men off, but the gift giving. From what I can ascertain, men fear what gift to get a woman because we apparently read so much into these gifts. The peril of gift giving on Valentine’s Day is felt by all men whether they be married or unmarried. So, to help men find that special gift, I did more research and interviewed five women who told me about the worst Valentine’s Day gifts they received. So, men, this is my Valentine’s gift to you. This tells you what NOT to get your beloved.
- Flannel nightgowns: Men think this is a cute gift which represents cuddling and warmth. According to the women I interviewed, this gift says, Please, cover up from head to toe and don’t let me see you! Also, women associate flannel nightgowns with K-Mart and Walmart, and while we like the less expensive retail outlets for everyday life, we don’t appreciate them for romantic gifts.
- Anything domestic or cleaning related: I objected to the dismissal of this gift category by the women in my unscientifically formed focus group. I have wanted a Shark Steam Vacuum for two years now, but my husband won’t get it because his friends have warned him of the potential abuse he will take and the lack of sex that will ensue from this purchase. So, we are at a stalemate here. My female friends say to receive a gift like this sets a bad precedent for women everywhere. Once one woman approves of a domestic gift, it opens the floodgates to all women receiving these practical items, and it will signal the end of romance as we know it in modern society. I am starting to go with the men and think women put too much thought into this holiday.
- A gift certificate to a plastic surgeon: Now, this is a trap that many men have fallen into. Sure, women complain about their bodies. They sabotage men with questions like “Do I look fat?” “Am I getting wrinkles?” “Are my boobs sagging?” After being bombarded by these questions for years, some men might think that a woman would love him forever if he gave her a gift of plastic surgery. Those would be stupid men. Once again, according to my female focus group, it’s not the surgery we want; it’s the confirmation that we are still beautiful. Instead of the plastic surgery consult, give her a gift certificate to a spa instead. A relaxing massage or a facial says, You are so beautiful. Let me give you a gift of indulgence because you never take time for yourself. Plastic surgery says, I see that your cellulite shows up more, so have a liposuction on me. See the difference in the tone. Tone can make or break romance.
- A gym membership: Again, a tricky gift. While a man is probably saying, I want you to stay healthy and be with me forever, a woman might interpret this gift as: You are fat. I know, misinterpretation is a bitch, but hey men—use your heads. If she insists on a gym membership, go for it. If she has never broached the subject, get another gift! This simple strategy can make your life a little more peaceful.
- A tubal ligation: I know I was shocked when one of my focus group members revealed this gift to me. But after five children, her husband had hit his mental limit. So, naively, he presented her with this gift. Did I mention she was not pleased? Let’s just say that since he made his feelings known in this way, a procedure was done, but not to her. In his defense, the man does have a sweet side and sends his wife roses on each of their children’s birthdays. He just had one brief lapse of judgment for which he did pay dearly. Let me report that they are a great deal happier now.
Well, I hope these tips help. Happy Valentine’s Day and shop safely!