What Dads really think about Valentine’s Day

There are two reasons why I can’t stand Valentine’s Day. The first is that I’ve never received a Valentine’s card from anyone other than my mum. At school I hovered between the cool kids who got all the cards and the nerds who got one or two pity cards. Me? Nothing. Not a sniff. (Save those from my mum, but let’s not labour the point.)

The second reason I immensely dislike (’hate’ is such a strong word) Valentine’s Day is the pressure it puts us guys under to be romantic. I’m not a romantic person. I find it incredibly difficult to express my inner feelings in a smoochy, gushy kind of way, instead showing my love towards my wife through grabbing her backside whenever she walks by.

This reluctance to show outward affection is evident if you were to watch the video of my wedding. During my speech I gush about how beautiful my wife looks, but my voice is robotic and my eyes are flitting about the ceiling, looking anywhere but someone else’s face.

What is Valentine’s Day? It’s much the same as Christmas: a day which at one point in the history of time meant something, but has become so commercialised that it has lost all meaning.

It’s a day when companies and retailers can cash in, pressuring men (and women) into thinking that if they don’t buy that special someone a card, or a bunch of flowers, or an iPad, that they’re somehow a terrible lover, and will probably die alone.

This is exacerbated when you’re a parent: having children means you spend a little time and attention on your spouse, and a lot on trying to change a dirty nappy whilst stopping your baby toddler from kicking his own poo. Surely Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to take a break from the kids and rekindle the romance?

Perhaps. But it seems mums scoff at the mere thought of a grand gesture from their spouse. When asked whether she expects a romantic offering from her husband, Tara replied “Laughing so hard. That’s a no!”

Claire was rather sarcastic when asked the same question: “What is a grand romantic gesture?” she asks. “I wouldn’t know one if it hit me in the face! That’s a big no from me!”

More mums were asked, and each had a similar response. It seems romance is dead, then; but dads have a different idea – and one which handily prevents having to spend a lot of money in one day.

David Inglis views Valentine’s Day in two ways. “The first is simply an excuse for some men to feel safe all year knowing they are not expected to perform any type of spontaneous romantic gesture because there’s a day in the year for that.

“The second is as a commercial day of guilt and pressure. Romance should be, where practicable, an everyday event.”

I agree that the giving of a gift on a spontaneous and random basis means much more than a present on Valentine’s Day. It shows that you wanted to make your spouse smile not because the day dictated it, but because you felt it would be a nice thing to do.

Keith Kendrick agrees. “Personally, I hate the commercial cynicism of the occasion – it’s just another excuse to flog badly-versed cards and fill post-Christmas restaurants with couples who wouldn’t normally be seen dead in public together.

“Still, I do make an effort on the day by cooking my beloved an aphrodisiac’s dinner of langoustine and fillet steak, washed down with chilled Prosecco.”

Maybe, as parents, we’re just past the stage of overtly garish shows of romance, and treat Valentine’s Day as a chance to treat each other within the privacy of the home.

Ben Tipping “hates all the cheesy red things”, and cooks a nice meal for his wife – last year it was mussels followed by fillet steak.

“Romance isn’t about an annual big gesture, and doesn’t mean buying jewellery just because some corporations think we should,” he says. “Besides, you get way more brownie points for doing something out of the blue at some other time!”

As a final test, I ask my wife whether she expects a big romantic gesture from me on Valentine’s Day. The answer: “If I was married to anyone else I would, but you? No.”

I plead my case. Don’t you think I should just show you affection all year round, I ask. She removes her gaze from the TV and looks at me.

“I do think that, yes,” she says, with a knowing grin. “You should.”

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