How do Dad’s feel about Valentine’s Day? We asked Chris Gable, our popular male contributor for his take. Be warned this article may alarm the romantics. It could also tickle the funny bone of the cynics. Whatever your ilk, keep reading … there is a surprise ending to this love story of sorts.
It’s bad form to use sweeping statements, but here’s one I feel reasonably comfortable using: no man looks forward to Valentine’s Day. Personally, I hate it.
Wow, really? Hatred? How can I hate a day that’s supposed to be all about celebrating love? Did I once give an expensive, thoughtful gift to an indifferent, ungrateful partner? Was I brutally assaulted by a girl who believed she was worth more than the wilting bouquet I’d bought from 7-11 in a panic when I realised I’d forgotten to get anything better?
Nope. Nothing like that. I’ve generally been pretty good at walking that fine line between the maximum I’m comfortable spending and the minimum she’ll allow me to spend; no enduring bad experiences. The main reason I hate it is fairly simple, really: the purpose of Valentine’s Day is to guilt men into spending money on women.
Before you grab your torches and pitchforks, let me say that I’m the first to agree that women are horribly disadvantaged in modern society in many ways. They deserve far better from their men than they often get. I am entirely, 100% for gender equality. However, I’m yet to be convinced that paying exorbitantly inflated rates for flowers is the way to achieve it.
All the ads, the decorations, the cards and gifts, all the marketing in its entirety, is based on the premise that the guy must give something to the girl. It’s exclusively about flowers, jewellery, chocolates, underwear, romantic candle-lit dinners. There aren’t any Valentine’s Day ads in Auto Barn or Bunnings or any of the stores typically associated with gifts for men. It’s utterly one-sided.
Before marriage and kids, when it’s just the two of you, a guy can force himself into the spirit of the day by taking various steps to ensure it ended with a shag – Victoria’s Secret is always a good place to shop – but, these days, I’m fairly confident my wife would be a lot less interested in lacy bras and transparent negligees than she may have been five years ago. She still has those previous Valentine’s Day gifts, but they haven’t featured much since the kids arrived.
Spending $100 on a box of long-stem roses would bring a brief smile to her face, I’m sure, but once they were in a vase we’d both be looking at them and thinking of a dozen better ways to have spent $100.
A romantic candle-lit dinner for two at a good restaurant costs stupid amounts on Valentine’s Day – about 50% more than it does any other day of the year. I wouldn’t say I’m a cheapskate, but paying more for what costs a lot less any other day of the year annoys me beyond the point where I can enjoy it.
So yeah. Not only is Valentine’s Day a stupid made-up holiday, it’s aimed specifically at women who are yet to have children. In this regard, all the females in my family are at a different life stage. So, I feel no guilt whatsoever with regards to my plan to wholly ignore Valentine’s Day this year, and every year from now on for the rest of my life. Hooray!
Now, having said all that…
I’d like to urge the men out there to do this one little thing when Valentine’s Day swings around in a few weeks. Sit down with your partner, open your diaries, and find a day and/or night when you can organise a babysitter in order spend some time alone, just the two of you.
It doesn’t have to feature presents or flowers; it doesn’t have to be expensive. It just has to focus on the two of you being away from the kids, having time to simply talk and be alone together without the background noise of home life.
Right around the time this article goes live, my wife and I will be doing exactly as follows on Valentine’s Day:
My parents will come up in the late afternoon to look after the girls; Linda and I will leave the house around 6pm. We’ll grab some takeaway burgers then head to the beach where we’ll sit at a park bench and watch the sun set while we eat. We’ll then take off our shoes and go strolling along the sand hand in hand, talking about things like possible home renovations and whether we can afford them, how work has been, how much we love our girls …
… and then I’ll get her to read this article, in particular this last paragraph where I reveal to her that she shouldn’t book any photo shoots in late February because she’ll be accompanying me on a short three-night cruise aboard the Queen Elizabeth, just the two of us. And that she should pack the negligee I gave her for Valentine’s Day a few years ago.
Happy Valentine’s Day gorgeous girl. Love you more now than ever.