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  • For Men Only: Are You a Valentine or a Porcupine? —3 Tips to a Better Valentine’s Day—

    Valentine’s Day! One husband shared with me that Valentine’s day, his wife’s birthday and their anniversary all fall in the same month. He shared that it is a triple opportunity for him to fail.

    Some men welcome Valentines Day, but for others like the husband I just mentioned, it is feared and dreaded. The husband I spoke to was determined to keep trying, but some husbands give up and become what I call, porcupines.

    I have heard men complain that no gift is creative enough or thoughtful enough. They say that no date they plan is appreciated. They say their wives either complain it is not romantic enough or is too romantic for the lack of connection they feel with their husbands.

    And you know what, their concerns may be valid. Your concerns may also be valid. Usually the truth falls somewhere in the middle. But this blog isn’t for wives, it is for husbands so let’s focus on what you are going to do.

    So let me ask you this question. This year, do you plan to be a Valentine or a porcupine?

    In a very brief read about porcupines, I understand they are mild mannered and want to be left alone to go about their business. They are prickly but not aggressive unless triggered. Then they defend themselves. Unlike popular myth, their quills are neither poisonous nor do they shoot them at their adversaries.

    Porcupines are not unlike many men who are more comfortable going about their business with a greater degree of solitude than connection. They mean well and don’t set out to hurt or disappoint their wives, but can be prickly when they feel like they are constantly failing in their wives’ eyes.

    When they get prickly, they can shut down and make themselves unapproachable. If further pressured or criticized, their defensive quills are sharp and can hurt their wives.

    Men, I know most of you mean well and want your wife to be happy. You want your marriage to be happy.

    So Let me ask again. Do you plan to be a Valentine or a porcupine?

    If you choose to be a Valentine, here are 3 tips to a better holiday.

    Tip #1: Do something. Doing nothing is the worst plan of all.

    Doing nothing is interpreted that you don’t care. Doing nothing leads to resentment. Just do your best. That is all you can do. But do something. I have had a few fails in the gift department in the past, such as giving my wife a gift card from a hardware store. We laugh about those failed attempts. If you do nothing, there is nothing to laugh about. There is only regret.

    Listen to your spouse and you may get ideas for a good gift. Ask her friends or family what a good gift or date night might be.

    Tip #2: Plan ways to connect in the days and weeks leading up to the holiday.

    • Start by remembering why you fell in love with her.

    • Talk to her at least 20 minutes a day.

    • Listen and draw her out.

    • Show interest.

    • Spend quality time with her.

    • Serve her.

    • Be kind to her.

    Your life outside of Valentine’s Day will determine the quality of the holiday. For good or bad, it sets the scene. Listen to Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology who wrote, “We have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.”

    Tip #3: Experiences promote longer, more special memories than material gifts.

    My wife grows her own flowers so giving her flowers is no big deal. She quit eating chocolate so that rules out chocolates. This year, I plan to put money aside for an Alaskan cruise we are saving up to go on. Additionally, I have ordered an Alaskan jigsaw puzzle that we can do together.

    A 2003 study has shown that gifts that involve experiences rather than material possessions produce greater happiness. A trinket can just take up space and a material possession is often soon forgotten. Sometimes an experience that you will never forget is as special as it gets. It depends on the person and couple. Something of the caliber of an Alaskan cruise might be commonplace for you but it isn’t for us.

    It doesn’t have to be a vacation. Maybe it is an axe bar, a concert, spa day, or an escape room. These are all memorable experiences.

    You can choose how you want to be.

    Don’t be a porcupine! 

    If you follow these tips, you can be a Valentine. Then it is up to your wives how they choose to respond. Your efforts will lead to a much greater chance of a good holiday. You can only control the husband you choose to be. But you can know you did your best. And that counts for a lot!