Marriage and Family Therapist
Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross is a licensed psychotherapist with almost twenty years of clinical experience in the fields of clinical psychology and organizational management. She has worked extensively with a wide variety of…
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How Couples Should Handle Valentine's Day Expectations
Posted in Healthy Relatio... by Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross on Feb 11, 2013
As all my clients know I am a big proponent of openly communicating your expectations to your mate. Throughout the year there are birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries; all, some might say, opportunities to express love and also to possibly exchange gifts with loved ones. Others might view these occasions as simply a set up for disappointment and in fact so often these events, Valentine’s Day in particular, are just that – a big letdown.

It may seem rather superficial to look at Valentine’s Day, what has essentially become a Hallmark Holiday, as a possible major stressor in a relationship but it can most definitely be one. This can happen when couples have expectations of their mate and fail to disclose them to the one person who needs that information. So many people have the misguided belief that their partner should intuitively know what would make them happy. I have heard statements such as, “if he really loved me he would know that Valentine’s Day is important to me.” I will often tell my clients that, despite our wishes to the contrary, love does not make people psychic.

Ideally couples should discuss early on in their union what makes them happy and what they desire from a partner but this doesn’t always happen. Despite this fact it is never too late to have this conversation. If you have ever been disappointed by your partner for missing the boat on a celebration or event that you had high hopes for then don’t set them up for failure now, with Valentine’s Day around the corner. Sit down and have a straightforward discussion about how each of you envision this day. Don’t be shy about expressing your desires but if you are generally reluctant to speak openly, then I recommend that you each write down your wishes and then exchange the information to be read by the other.

Get over the commonly held notion that having to be so explicit or direct about romance takes the passion or excitement out of it. The potential surprise or thrill is momentary while the hurt couples feel at being disappointed by their partner can last a very long time. Agree on an agenda, or the lack of one, and if your desires are polarized then compromise. This process of communication, planning and compromise, will serve you well in all areas of your relationship.

- Cyndi

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