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When I was young and romantic, I always seemed to be between relationships – which really takes the fun out of being single on a romantic holiday. Now that I’m a bit older my reasons for disliking the holiday are a bit more economic and psychological.
First off, I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a holiday that is intended to celebrate love. Love is a wonderful thing and I’m very thankful to have my husband in my life.
What I don’t like is the materialistic image of what Valentines has become for most people.
I’m not even against spending money when appropriate to your financial situation. What I struggle with is the romantic over the top gestures and the unrealistic expectation that people have as a result of this holiday.
I’ve known too many women in wonderful relationships who are devastated when their significant other just takes them to dinner. We’ve been brainwashed to think that it is only love if the Valentine’s gift is over the top.
We’ve become conditioned to expect flowers, chocolates, dinner and a meaningful (read expensive) gift. After all, one item just isn’t enough. When the expected gifts don’t materialize we are suddenly hurt.
“If he loves me so much why couldn’t he go out of his way to do something just for me?” or better yet, “How can he not read my mind and know exactly what I want.”
Aaron rocks at a lot of things, but romantic gifts/gestures is not his strong point. He warned me when we were dating gift giving wasn’t something he excelled at.
Even though he warned me, I still couldn’t help but think he would do something amazingly romantic. After all, we were crazy in love. I can’t even remember what we did for that first Valentine’s Day which tells you how amazing it was.
I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed.
Even though he had warned me, I expected something. I’m a pretty pragmatic person, so I didn’t take it too personally, but I was hurt. Later as I started thinking about our relationship I made a very important realization.
Valentines Day is meaningless.
I knew my husband loved me because of the daily stuff he did for me. His love for me was shown by the way he acted each and every day. I would much rather have a husband who takes out the trash, does the vast majority of the cooking and most of the laundry over a large romantic gesture once a year.
Since then some years have been better than others, but I stopped feeling hurt when my expectations didn’t match up to his actions. I’ve learned to be happy with what he can give me.
The only year he has managed to surprise me was when one of his female coworkers (thank you Erin) heard about his lackluster Valentines history and insisted on helping him out. I must say coming home to chocolate covered strawberry roses was awesome.
In Aaron’s defense, I tend to manage most of the finances and am neurotic enough to check our accounts on a daily basis. He borrowed money from Erin in order to keep it a secret and then paid her back after Valentines Day.
Also in his defense, we’ve been so focused on our debt reduction journey that I probably would have been annoyed if he went out and spent a bunch of money on me without talking it over first.
I’ve discovered though that if I want certain types of gifts he goes above and beyond. The year I decided I wanted a compound bow he spent hours and I do mean hours researching the perfect bow for me. They knew him by name at the local bow shop and probably had given up on him actually purchasing anything.
By the time we finally got the bow I was so sick of hearing the various specs I would just tune him out. I still kind of feel guilty about that one. I must say though, my bow rocks – I just wish I could use it right now. I’ve lost a lot of muscle tone being pregnant.
In some ways, I’m kind of relieved he is so bad at Valentines. It sure takes the pressure off me. It is a bit of a double standard, but I’ve never done anything major for him either.
Funny how I complain and feel bad when he fails at gift giving and yet I’m just as bad. For us, Valentines Day really is a meaningless holiday and yet, I can’t help but love the idea of celebrating a day devoted to love.
I’ll never participate in the grand over the top gestures or stress about the horrible gift-giving skills of my husband. What I’ll do instead is enjoy the day and be thankful for the love I have in my life.
So in the nature of trying to do a little bit better here are a couple of economical ideas for Valentines – for both sexes.
Personally, I’d rather have a nice home cooked meal then go out, but as previously mentioned I’ve got a husband who is an amazing cook and for some crazy reason actually likes to cook. If I were the one stuck cooking I’d definitely prefer going out.
I hate dealing with the crowds on Valentines Day, so if we go out we’ve gotten in the habit of going out on the 13th. The trick is to keep your spending within your budget.
If you can’t afford to go out then turn your home cooked meal into a fun shared experience. Do the grocery shopping and cooking together. Even though I hate cooking, I love spending time in the kitchen with Aaron. I keep thinking I’ll learn by osmosis, but mostly I just cut stuff and clean up as we go. I still have fun, though.
2. Spend the day hiking, exploring your city, vegging out in front of the TV, even do a miniature staycation.
It doesn’t matter what you do, just take the time to reconnect and spend time together. If you are in the Phoenix area here is a list of fun local hikes I created last year that you may enjoy. Some of my best days or ones without a formal agenda.
3. Do your taxes together
This is the most unromantic suggestion I’ve ever made, but hey they have to get done and since Valentine’s Day is on a weekend this year, you might as well get something productive done. If you can manage to do your taxes without killing each other you deserve to spend the evening celebrating in style – hopefully with the refund you’ll be getting.
4. Work on a home improvement project together.
Aaron and I still have a lot of stuff to get ready for when Baby White arrives. Although Home Depot is not my favorite place, going there with Aaron is always an adventure. It constantly amazes me how good he is at coming up with random ideas to make our home better.
Our spare bedroom is about to become our gear room and I need a lot of shelving and hanging slats to get everything organized. We also need to replace all of the dirt in our garden (Phoenix soil is the worst stuff ever). I doubt we’ll have time to do both projects, but there is nothing more fulfilling than working towards a common goal on a holiday celebrating love.
5. If you must exchange gifts below are a few fun practical ideas.
I tried to be balanced, but honestly, all of these ideas are for the outdoor man in your life. There are a ton of good post on more mainstream gifts if that is your preference. Once I started looking through the REI website I never left.
I’m not a video person, so I haven’t taken the GoPro plunge yet, but I’ve got a lot of friends who swear by them and based on the quality of their pictures and videos I can understand the fascination.
Headlamps are probably one of the most useful inventions out there. I keep one in every vehicle, by the side of my bed, in the kitchen, in my 72-hour kits and of course take them on any outdoor adventure. PS. This headlamp is currently selling for 50% off since it is a 2015 Closeout.
A good pair of hiking pants can be used for virtually anything except office wear. Aaron’s uses his for climbing, working out, casual dinners and pretty much anywhere else he can get away with wearing them.
After our Grand Canyon Canyoneering trip this spring Aaron and I decided that hiking poles were a must have for our gear list. I can’t believe what I difference they make on your knees. I know they are pricey, but this is one item I definitely recommend splurging on.
The North Face Router Travel Daypack $149.00
I’ve been using an old camelback hiking pack as my computer bag for years when I travel. Backpacks are significantly easy to lug around airports, taxi’s and subways then regular bags. Mine isn’t quite as professional looking as this one, but it does the job.
REI Nalgene Wide-Mouth Loop-Top Water Bottle – 32 fl. oz. $10.50 I love Nalgene bottles for hiking. They are virtually indestructible which is very important when you are in the middle of nowhere.
REI Lightweight Merino Wool Hiking Crew Socks $14.50 Durable hiking socks are the best thing ever!! I know they seem expensive, but I use mine for virtually everything including working out. They are just so much more comfortable than regular socks.
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