SAN DIEGO, February 8, 2012 – Other than Cupid, there’s no one better qualified to give Valentine’s Day advice than a divorce attorney. Especially one whose birthday happens on Valentine’s Day. Yes, that would be me.
When you think of Valentine’s Day, you think of hearts, flowers, romance, grand gestures, expressions of love and devotion. This is what we are conditioned to expect from this date on the calendar.
But society’s expectations for Valentine’s Day puts way too much pressure on couples, especially men. Talk about performance anxiety. Men know they have got to come through on Valentine’s Day. Cards and flowers? Sure, those are the easy way out. Jewelry? Romantic dinners? If you won’t go broke, these are pretty sure things. Extravagant vacations? Perhaps. But there comes a time for many men when they find themselves in a bind, feeling forced to make promises they aren’t ready to make and keep, including the Big One: a marriage proposal.
According to the United States Census, 2.6 million Americans get married every year, and about 10 percent of all marriage proposals take place on Valentine’s Day, the single most popular day for marriage proposals all year.
Women, you may be dreaming of being one of those people and getting that marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day. You might have dropped every hint possible. You may even have gotten family members or friends to pass the word. And you think it will be the best moment of your life. Maybe it will. But chances are that it might not be.
In general, it’s a horrible idea to propose on Valentine’s Day, simply because it’s expected. Think twice about putting your partner under that kind of pressure. Why would you want someone to propose when he feels like he has a gun to his head? If the proposal isn’t truly at the right time of an individual’s own free will, it isn’t worth much.
If you believe even for a second that your man might have been pushed into proposing, won’t you wonder for the rest of your life whether he would have gotten around to it on his own? It’s toxic to let those seeds of doubt get planted right as you are about to start your marriage.
It’s unwise to begin a lifetime together this way. Two keys to a successful marriage are communication and trust. If you aren’t talking openly about these issues, you’ve got problems brewing. Marriage is difficult enough and this puts any couple at a disadvantage. Be honest about not being ready, or timing things just because there is a certain month and date on the calendar. I recommend choosing another day that isn’t so loaded with stress and anxiety, and make it your own.
For all couples whether married or not, gay or straight, please lighten up and put Valentine’s Day in its proper context. Some people enjoy making Valentine’s Day a celebration of love and that’s wonderful. Too many others feel obligated to “come through” with the grand gesture. When someone fails to meet his or her partner’s expectations, it can hurt the relationship far beyond one day.
One day a year does not a love affair make. I see it far too often when dealing with divorces. You can’t make the big show of affection or come up with flowers on Valentine’s Day and think your relationship is “taken care of” until the same time next year. When couples forget to make each other feel important the other 364 days of the year, the relationship is in big trouble.
Besides, it’s nearly impossible for the average person to live up to the hearts and flowers hype of Valentine’s Day. Men in particular will do nearly anything to stay out of trouble, sending flowers only because their girlfriend or wife will be angry if they don’t. This is ridiculous and it’s a little bit sad.
I see the end result daily of couples failing to value their relationships. People get divorced because they grow apart. Yes, there is domestic violence, or infidelity. But a lot of divorces happen due to the simple fact people take their relationships for granted.
So to the gals, please let your poor guy off the hook this year. Tell him to surprise you on another day. Then let him do it, in his own way in his own time. When it happens, you’ll know for sure it’s the real deal.
Myra Chack Fleischer serves as Lead Counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby in Carlsbad, California with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Read more Legally Speaking in Communities Digital News. Follow Myra on Twitter: @LawyerMyra.
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