Valentine’s Day…it’s coming!

swept off her feetAhhhh…Valentine’s Day.  I love it.  With Christmas and New Year’s long gone now, retailers have already done the flip and I don’t care that it’s contrived, artificial or just collusion between the card companies, chocolate companies and florists.

Valentine’s Day is a forced moment to stop and think about the one you love and to make that one person feel special…if only I could control the HOW when that person is me!

I can’t think of how many times I’ve instigated an argument with Mr. Niceguy over my (perhaps ever-so-slightly) unrealistic expectations around Valentine’s Day – and I have to say, these “discussions” are always initiated at the END of the day (when he no longer stands a chance and when I’ve finally admitted to myself that I’m not getting the moon and stars for Valentine’s this year).  For example:

Me:   Hmmm…so anything special happen at work today?

Mr. Niceguy:  Nope, just a typical day.

Me:  Wasn’t it extra pretty?  Like lots of pink and red hearts in all the stores down there?  I love the Valentine’s day decorations…

Mr. Niceguy:  Ya.

Me:  Remember back when we didn’t have any kids?  Oooh, and before we were married…how you used to send me flowers and buy me my favourite candy for Valentine’s Day?  *wistful*  How you’d plan the whole day like the time you took me skating at City Hall and then we went to my favourite restaurant for dinner?

Mr. Niceguy:  Didn’t you plan that day…and wasn’t that the time you got really sick and called the restaurant the next day because you thought they served us tainted beef when it was actually the fact that you ordered the pan-fried butter steak, the buttery mushrooms, the cheesy baked potatoes and then the extra helping of creamy mashed potatoes?

Me:  *HHHRRRMMMPPHH*  Nooooooo…not that time (thanks for bringing that up!)  The time you took me to the romantic French restaurant with the bread baskets that hang from the pulleys, the gorgeous fireplace, the wonderful wine…

Mr. Niceguy:  Oh.  Ya.  Ummm…

Me:  *Losing patience* Why can’t you plan a Valentine’s Day for me anymore?   Can you please plan one next year?  Please?

Mr. Niceguy:  Huh?  What?  I was just checking Arsenal’s standings in the soccer league…

Ya.  So that’s the way it usually goes.  But not this year.  This year I’m taking matters into my own hands.  I’m a smart, capable, educated woman who can totally be logical when she wants.  In fact, I resent that last statement.  I am ALWAYS logical.  So if I want something, I’m gonna make it happen.  I am going to sweep Mr. Niceguy right off his feet!

But wait…I’m the girl.  And isn’t Valentine’s Day all about showing the girl how much you love her?  Isn’t it about courting, wooing and making your lady feel special?  I don’t want to take that away from Mr. Niceguy.  Instead, I will trust that this year he will know exactly what to do.

Besides, I was testing the waters tonight and he kind of passed.  See, Mr. Niceguy’s absolute favourite meal in the whole wide world is roasted chicken and potatoes – it’s a comfort food that his mom used to make for him.  Imagine the smells of a roasting chicken filling the home…I wonder, could it be the key to Mr. Niceguy’s heart?  So to test this hypothesis, I made him his favourite dinner, except…

When I went to lift the roasting pan out of the oven, I think I may have tweaked my finger – it might have been heavy for just one hand but I carried it to the table all the same.  After our meal, while I was doing the washing, I noticed a large purple bruise on the inside of my finger and recalled…my GP asked me recently if I bled or bruised easily…HOLD ON.  Am I a closet hemophiliac?!  I asked Mr. Niceguy…

Me:  *Panic and concern with a dash of cute*  Look at my finger!

Mr. Niceguy:  *Sweetly*  Oh!  What’d you do?

Me:  *Coy and bashful batting my eyelashes*  I don’t know…I think I hurt it while lifting the casserole…do you think I’m a borderline hemophiliac?  I mean, I bruise so easily and when I cut myself it takes a while to stop bleeding…

Mr. Niceguy:  *Smiling as one would to a toddler*  Oh no.  I think if you were a hemophiliac, even a borderline hemophiliac, we would have known by now.  I mean, true, you are special and lots of odd things have happened to you, but I wouldn’t worry.

See?!  So sweet…so attentive.  Hypothesis validated.  I will prepare a roasted chicken right before Valentine’s Day, drop a hint or two and see where things take us…who knows, maybe this year I’ll get the sun and the moon and the stars and the flowers and the candy and the really hard to get reservations and the trendiest restaurant and a new bauble and…and…and…

Tangled

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Marriage. That blessed arrangement…that dream within a dream…

One of my favourite aunties, though I can just barely call her that as she’s really so much more, recently sent me an article published in the New York times (perhaps Spincycle Diaries will one day grace its high brow pages…) about marriage.  Fitting, really, given the time of year what with Valentine’s Day, Family Day and spring being in the air…

???????????????????????????Marriage, as an institution, was not one that I entered in too lightly…though perhaps, I didn’t think too deeply about it either.  I mean, as soon as I’d laid eyes on Mr. Niceguy for the eighth or ninth time, I knew I wanted him to ask me.  Let’s digress for a moment…with Mr. Niceguy it was not love at first sight – no lightning or thunderbolt city (I borrow that statement from Tom, a favourite character in the movie, Four Weddings and a Funeral).  But apparently, for Mr. Niceguy, the moment he saw me, it was thunderbolt city for him (yay!)  He knew he would marry me…and so he very cunningly began his campaign to do just that.  So when he finally did get me to notice him, notice him I did.  And I knew that I was so intrigued and beguiled that I had to have him ask me to marry him.

But having a boyfriend, getting engaged and then even planning a wedding – these are not the real precursors to a happy marriage.  In fact, they are not at all related…though choice, now that certainly goes a long way.  I think of the wedding scene in Princess Bride.  Had the wedding to Prince Humperdink actually occurred, I think Princess Buttercup surely would have committed suicide eventually.

With nearly half of all marriages ending up in divorce, is marriage an institution that we should aspire to be in?

The only way I can think of to answer this question is as follows: it depends.  While marriage is not for everyone, for those who feel they have found the right person, it may very well be.  According to the New York Times article, The All-or-Nothing Marriage by Eli J. Finkel, marriages in general have become less satisfying…because of an “all or nothing” proposition.  In that, our expectations are just too high and so the institution of marriage is at a disadvantage when it comes to meeting our “needs.”  Cited as perhaps one of the bigger reasons for the decline in marital satisfaction is the lack of time spouses spend with one another; spouses, who spend time alone with each other, talking or sharing an activity, are likely to be happier.  While the institution of marriage may have initially served a basic need (protection, security, maintaining title, and accumulation of wealth) Finkel states that since around 1965, the self-expressive marriage emerged:  marriage as a means of self-discovery, self-esteem and personal growth.

So in keeping the “Self-Expressive Marriage” in mind…here’s what happened a few days ago…

Me:  So…ummm….it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow.  Uh…well, where are you taking me for dinner?

Mr. Niceguy:  *shrug* Huh?  What?  I didn’t make any plans.

Me:  *incensed* What?  Why?  Don’t you know me?  I love surprises and a chance to partake in such an important, albeit manufactured, holiday…why, how else will you express how much I mean to you?  (Self-discovery)

Mr. Niceguy:  *annoyed* Are you serious?  Do you really think that?  The kids have Kung Fu…

Me:  SCREW KUNG FU!!  I’m not showing up to Kung Fu with you – like ‘oh look at us, we didn’t even bother to make plans for Valentine’s Day’ oh no!  I DESERVE one day a year.  In fact, I get TWO days:  Valentine’s and my birthday.**  That’s just two out of 365 days – just 0.5% of the year – even less in a leap year.  You know I love it when you make plans to show me that you love me and you do things for me all the time, but this is a special day and, well, I want it.  Please?  (Self-esteem)

Mr. Niceguy:  Okay, okay.  I’ll see what I can do… (personal growth)

WesleyandButtercupThere you have it.  I couldn’t agree more with Finkel.  Such insight.  But I will add the following: overcoming adversity – kind of like the adversity overcome by Wesley and Buttercup (or like another fun favourite, like Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock’s characters in the movie, The Proposal).  Perhaps that’s a part of personal growth…but I think it should be a category of its own.  This may be a little mushy…so I’m warning you readers.

When I did enter the institution of marriage, it was on the heels of one of the biggest parties I’d ever attended, much less thrown.  But all of that pomp and circumstance, the sheer joy and bliss, would give way quickly as there was a lot going on for both of our families and for each of us – which I won’t get into here – but things that really tested our bond and our commitment to one another.  Many times I found myself thinking, can I do this?  And over the years, our bond has been challenged, time and again, for many reasons notwithstanding professional baggage or the trials and tribulations that come with having children.  In fact all of the kinds of things that cause one to “grow up”…

Yet…it is this adversity that has brought us closer together…me and my Mr. Niceguy.  While I wish we didn’t have to go through some of them, I am grateful that we’ve navigated through together.  This marriage thing is definitely for me.  Happy Valentine’s Day…

**Note…subsequent to the writing of this entry, we discovered that there are, in fact, THREE days a year that I get – the third being the wedding anniversary I share with Mr. Niceguy.  *GUSH*

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