5 Things Married Women Actually Want For Valentine's Day

Since the dawn of civilization, the world has been haunted by a single unanswerable riddle, posed time and time again by philosophers, pundits, and Mel Gibson movies: “What do women really want???” The enormity of this query is only slightly greater than that of a further question, “What do women really want… FOR VALENTINE’S DAY??” Women, being the fathomless mysteries that we are, keep our true desires to the shadows, abandoning men everywhere to scrape around in the dirt and speculate upon our inscrutable longings. We wait hungrily for our partners’ inevitable failure to guess our deepest longings, so that we can point and laugh at them.

Ahem.

Truth time: I’m always kind of annoyed at the endless articles and TV segments that crop up this time of year, making declarations like “What women REALLY want this February.” What gets me is the implication that all women are somehow the same, and that we all have identical needs and desires, which we keep hidden away from dudes for reasons known only to ourselves. The fact is, women are diverse, and the Valentine’s Day gift that sounds heavenly to one lady might sound completely “meh” to another. Some women will be turned off by traditional gifts like flowers and chocolates, while others will be totally psyched to receive those things. Some women would love to have something from their partners to display at work, while others like to keep things private. Some women see Valentine’s Day as an occasion to “treat yo self” (and their loved ones), and others don't care about celebrating the holiday at all. And all of those different opinions are totally fine. Great, even.

Married women have as many differing desires as everyone else, so there is no perfect V-Day gift that will satisfy everyone. I can’t speak for all married women, but I can make some basic generalizations based on my own Valentine’s Days, post-wedding. When you’re in the early stages of dating someone, Valentine’s Day can be a really fraught thing: There’s the pressure of trying to make it “special” without being too much — but what if he or she thinks it's not enough? (And so on and so forth). But (if my own experience is anything to go by) when you’ve already had a lot of Valentine’s Days with someone, you become less attached to traditional notions of the holiday and the objects usually given to celebrate it. The purpose of your Valentine’s Day evolves to have less to do with declaring your love than with reminding your long-term partner that he or she is still special, and that you still love him or her.

Valentine’s gift-giving is famously complicated, but I think that what most people who are married or in LTRs want from their partners is fairly simple:

  • To feel loved.
  • To laugh.
  • To have a break from stress.
  • To feel like they matter to their partners.
  • To have fun.

How, exactly, you create those feelings for your partner will depend on your own marital dynamic, but here are some ideas:

1. CHILDCARE.

I do not have kids, but I know from the women in my life who do that getting a break from childcare is basically the best present ever. For moms with young children, especially, there is nothing more luxurious than having a few hours of alone time to go to the spa, or hang out with friends, or, hell, just sit quietly and read a book. No matter how much a woman loves her kids, she’ll still be happy to relinquish her responsibilities for a little while.

2. Go on a date.

Any married person can tell you that there’s a major difference between “Going out to eat because it’s Tuesday and we’re exhausted and can’t be bothered to cook” and “Going on a date, the sole purpose of which is to enjoy each other’s company.” “A date” can mean a lot of things, and they don’t all have to be fancy or expensive: Going to dinner, making a picnic, cooking something weird and fun together, going on a hike, checking out that museum you’ve been meaning to go to but never have, exploring a new neighborhood together, learning to make origami together from YouTube videos, and on and on. The possibilities are endless, friends. The key is that it has to (1) be just the two of you and (2) have no other purpose than to spend time together and enjoy each other’s company.

3. Whatever it is, do the planning.

If your wife is usually the one to organize things, take it on yourself to do whatever planning is necessary, whether that means making reservations or picking up groceries. The last thing you want is for your "gift" to make life more stressful for her.

4. Cover a chore.

Is there a chore or other not-fun life thing that your spouse really, really does not enjoy? Do it for her. One of the most romantic gifts my husband has ever given me was a stack of “coupons,” each promising that he would take out the dog. Why was this romantic, you ask? We live in a place that turns into an icy hellscape in the winter, and, every morning, we take turns on who has to get out of bed to take our dog out to pee in the blisteringly cold. So each one of those coupons represented a morning that I got to stay warm and cozy in bed for an extra ten minutes, while he went outside and risked his eyelashes freezing together. See? Romantic AF.

5. Write a sappy letter!

A love letter might seem cheesy, but married people need a little cheesy romance in their lives! When you’ve been with someone for ages, and you live with them, and you maybe raise children with them, it’s easy to feel more like a roommate/co-parent/business partner sometimes than an actual romantic partner. So write a note or card that lets your wife know that you’ve still got it bad for her.

Images: Pexels; Giphy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)