Peter Pearson

Feb14-225Picture this. It might fit for lot of guys. Valentine's Day approaches. A week before this special, romantic day, Joe starts calling around for dinner reservations. He believes he is pretty smart thinking ahead like this.

Bad news. Every restaurant he calls is booked until 9:45.

Joe is getting desperate. He knows Sue won’t be happy with the EARLY BIRD SPECIAL at Denny’s.  That would qualify for a special place in his “memory hall of shame.”

He would like to tell Sue he doesn’t want to be a slave to the calendar, like herds of lemmings all stampeding to eat out on the busiest night of the restaurant year.  He hates the whole overpriced and crowded experience of Valentine's Day, with food getting colder by the minute until harried waiters schlep it to the table.

But no. The calendar says February 14th. And duty calls.

Gifts? The pain just gets worse. Every year he needs to give her something that brings tears to her eyes, just like in the commercials. It is the gift that proves his love, passion, and everlasting dedication to the person he cannot live without. And preferably, the gift should be even better than last year’s. He suspects that only Hallmark executives and restaurant owners are truly happy with this day.

But Joe can’t reveal all this to Sue. She wouldn’t understand.

What’s a guy to do?

Poor Sue. She’s not looking forward to another evening with grim, stressed-out Joe. Although more sentimental than Joe, she is not a big fan of noisy, crowded restaurants with overpriced menus. She would actually prefer a quiet celebration dinner the evening before or the evening after.  It’s easier to get in and a lot more relaxing. But she knows Joe goes to a lot of trouble trying to find a nice place – even though sometimes he strikes out.

Sue doesn't wholeheartedly buy into our consumer-oriented society that exchanges gifts because the calendar says it is the thing to do. Flowers and a card (that is not so sweet it triggers a diabetic coma) would be fine. Actually a more grown up expression of his affection and connection – just a few lines from his heart – would be great.

It is very difficult for her to give Joe a gift. His wants are few and simple. But the calendar dictates the ritual.

She would like to talk to Joe about her concerns, wishes and desires, and perhaps create some experiences instead of giving “things.” But she doesn’t think he would understand or be receptive.

It’s a good thing February 14th happens only once a year.

Does this sound familiar? Would you like to share your Valentine’s challenges? Or maybe you have suggestions for dealing with these difficulties. I look forward to reading your comments below.


Peter Pearson, Ph.D., Relationship & Teamwork Expert for Entrepreneur Couples

Pete has been training and coaching couples to become a strong team since 1984 when he co-founded The Couples Institute with his psychologist wife, Ellyn Bader.

Their popular book, “Tell Me No Lies,” is about being honest with compassion and growing stronger as a couple.

Pete has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including “The Today Show,” "Good Morning America,” and "CBS Early Morning News,” and quoted in major publications including “The New York Times,” “Oprah Magazine,” “Redbook,” “Cosmopolitan,” and “Business Insider.”

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