Park Avenue Relationship ConsultantsYou remember the Barbara Streisand song, “you don’t send me flowers?” suggesting a loss of love? Well, that complaint resounds in my office before Valentine’s Day along with expectations and yes, sometimes demands for a special gift, often expensive, to show love. I have worked with a few couples in which one partner, usually the woman, (but it has happened with gay couples as well) expects an expensive gift to show love, or a gift that is special and meant to show the other person’s love. Often that special gift is in the other person’s head, but not guessed at by their partner and the disappointment causes anger rather than good feelings. In this way, a time that was supposed to be one of sharing and intimacy, becomes one of rancor and bad feelings.

This type of hurt, bickering, and bad feelings is often caused because a partner has a particular idea of what love is and how it gets expressed, often taken from early childhood expressions of love from parents in the form of gifts. When these expectations are then placed on the person’s partner, both people end up feeling hurt. The expectant person feels hurt because their expectation wasn’t met, and the partner feels hurt because their attempts were not appreciated, or worse, were rejected. I often suggest to couples that they limit the cost of gifts to something affordable for them as a couple, and accept the wish beneath the gift as one of love, rather than valuing the item, per say.

What has your experience been with Valentine’s Day gifts? We are interested in your thoughts.

Barbara Feld

Got thoughts or opinions on this topic? A helpful anecdote you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.


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