I’m not sure, but I think I started a fight between my friend and her insignificant other.
We were on the topic of Valentine’s Day being the next day, and I was trying to see if he had anything planned for her. He gave every excuse he could, because either things cost money they didn’t have (she said he could have skimmed some from their joint account), or her favorite flowers aren’t in season and only last a single day (lousy reason to not bother getting flowers), or every other excuse you could think of.
I suggested that he could go to Lush and spend a couple bucks to get a massage bar, then give her a massage. That, too, was too much money (the massage bars are about $5). Candlelight dinner, running to the store for two taper candles, and I’d take the kids out for dinner so they could be alone together. My friend actually said she’d rather have dinner with her/their kids than to have dinner with him. What about a card? I suggested using the art supplies that are everywhere in the house, but he said his art skills are nonexistent, and my friend said that he just doesn’t want to put in the effort.
There was some screaming, thankfully none of it was directed at me.
I happened to recall a time when I tried to encourage him to do something romantic for her for her birthday. I had to pull up that conversation to see how it went, only to find it was from 2009 and included him saying the words, “our inevitable breakup.” For about eight years, he’s been staying with her past their “inevitable breakup.” I’ve witnessed a few shouting matches between them, and I’ve also sat in on family therapy meetings which also addressed their relationship to try and work on improving things. At this point, I just want my friend to be happy, whether that means acknowledging her relationship as being dissolved or if it means trying to get the guy to do something romantic.
At one point in the discussion, he asked what she had done for him, or was doing for him. It was his birthday on the 12th, and she spent two days making and decorating a cake for both him and their older son. But I also mentioned that no one would keep giving something to a person if the other person didn’t reciprocate.
Valentine’s Day in Japan wasn’t my first thought, but I did mention it, as girls make chocolates for the guys in whom they’re interested and then the guys do something for the girls on March 14, White Day. The idea wasn’t about putting my friend on the spot, it was about getting the guy to be all manly and romantic.
The morning of Valentine’s Day, I woke up to a reply to my message, which included links to a few different love songs. I felt like the way to my heart was through my headphones, as I was dreamily smiling throughout the day. There was more than just the YouTube links, but that much is personal.
I asked my friend what her guy had done. Nothing. He bought a card for their kids to sign, but that was the extent of it all. Even though he had to run to the store after we listed so many suggestions, he didn’t act on any of them.
I can understand his thinking if he worried that she would act like it was expected, like if she scoffed at him and sarcastically remarked, “was that so hard?” If he had done something and that was her reaction, then I’d side with him for her ungrateful behavior. If he did something romantic that we actually hadn’t suggested, and she liked it, then I would be glad that we managed to light a fire under him.
But he did nothing.
And I spent the day in a state of bliss because of an e-mail. A string of characters, of words on the screen, the cost of which was mostly time. A thought was passed along to me, not chocolates which would add to my waistline or flowers which would perish sooner than I’d like. A few paragraphs which chased away my demons of self-doubt and made me feel loved, and even if I spent a moment thinking it was a ruse, I soon told myself that he wouldn’t have spent the time if he didn’t care about me.
Because about an hour after the first message was sent, another one was sent with more YouTube links to music videos. So he didn’t just send the first message and clear the thought of me from his mind, he spent another hour looking at music videos to send to me.
How did my friends spend their day?
My friend played World Of Warcraft, and her guy made dinner for everyone. And even though we all discussed having spaghetti earlier in the day, complete with my friend asking for a loaf of bread from a bakery she liked, dinner was tacos because he wanted tacos.
I might have felt worse for them than I did. The problem was, she expected to get nothing from him, and she got exactly that. I don’t think that was right, but that this point in their relationship, maybe what’s broken can’t be fixed. All I could do was shrug off their situation and go back to feeling damned lucky and thankful for what I had in my own life.
I’m not in the group of people who says that Valentine’s Day has anything to do with buying things for your partner. I’m not someone who says the day has to be all about what the guy does for the girl. I wish everyone could feel loved on Valentine’s Day, and I wish people knew that it doesn’t cost a thing to express that love to another person. You don’t always need to use your own words, sometimes poetry and songs convey the message you can’t seem to let flow from your heart. What matters is that your favorite person knows that you are eternally grateful for their presence in your life, a sentiment that shouldn’t be saved for Valentine’s Day but made known throughout the year.