It can be challenging to navigate the thorny question of Valentine’s Day and how much you should spend on celebrating this annual event of romantic love with your wife.
She may say that she does not want a gift or a fuss made, but if you do not make an effort with at least a token of your affection, does it give her the impression that she isn’t important to you?
The average spend on Valentine’s Day by men in the United States is $249, but there is a wide variation across the ages from an average spend of $55 (56 to 74) to $293 (40-55) (source). The short answer is that you should only spend what you can afford. But whether you have a small or vast budget, you need to celebrate and make room for hearts and flowers.
Let’s first take a look at the gifts and how much to spend, followed by how you should tweak the approach to Valentine’s Day celebration as the marriage matures.
Working Out Your Affordable Valentine’s Day Spend
You want to treat your spouse on Valentine’s Day, but be practical – she will not thank you for ruining your joint finances. Celebrating Valentine’s Day is about the emotional connection rather than the amount of money you can spend on the event.
Sensible budget guidelines involve setting your spending limits in $50 bands and then being creative with the amount of money available. You can cover all the Valentine elements at all budget bands with careful planning.
On Valentine’s Day, it is the thought and love behind your actions that speak louder than any amount of gift buying.
The amount you spend and your gift to her depends on your budget, your wife’s personality, and how long you have been married.
Valentine’s Day Planning for Your Wife
The typical elements of a Valentine’s Day celebration are a card, flowers, sweet treats, a gift, and sharing a meal.
Enhance the card with a personal handwritten message that suits your relationship. This occasion means sentimentality is expected and welcome. Borrow some other poet’s words or try your hand at some verses of your own.
Replace the card with a love letter or poem – rolled and tied with a silk ribbon or decorative twine is a lovely presentation.
This elegant expression of your feelings helps keep inside a tight budget as it costs less than a massive card in a silk box.
A single red rose is a cliché on Valentine’s Day, but at least you know you are following the traditional path. You can give a rose for each year of your marriage or opt for a mixed bouquet.
When Valentine’s Day falls on a working day, flowers delivered to your wife’s place of work are a public statement of affection that brightens her day!
Sweet Treats and a Gift
Chocolate or candy can be the whole of the gift or as an extra item. If your wife is trying to lose weight, you can be supportive of her efforts by replacing the sweet treat with fruit or a selection of individually wrapped flower teas.
A gift needs to be meaningful and frivolous. Valentine’s Day is for fun and romance and not for practical items like a puncture repair kit. Unless your wife is a keen cyclist and for her, this is the best gift ever!
The approach is to suit the gift to your wife and her interests.
Dinner for Two
Communication is vital – you are going to share this meal.
Your wife may prefer to be taken out for dinner and expect you to have sorted out the booking, so this is an opportunity to surprise her.
Alternatively, she may be planning a special night in as your Valentine’s Day surprise. Or maybe you are planning to get home early, set the table, put on the mood music, and have the champagne on ice.
You can still surprise each other, but make sure you are clear on who is organizing dinner.
Valentine’s Day with the Wife: From Newly-wed to Long-term Marriage
As the union grows through the years, the celebration of Valentine’s Day takes on a different approach.
Before the First Wedding Anniversary
You are in the first year of marriage, and being a couple is new and strange. You may have been living together before the wedding, but marriage changes your relationship.
You’re committed to staying together, and if you find life challenging, you are going to tackle it as a team.
New marriages are fragile and need attention to thrive and endure. Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to show you value your wife and your relationship and avoid becoming one of those divorce statistics.
A wedding and setting up together is an expensive business, but this is your first Valentine’s Day as a married couple. What you spend and do in response to this event is likely to set the tone for future years.
The problem is your budget squeezed because of the timing. You can celebrate the day in the same way regardless of the amount available to spend.
Instead of the standard flowers and chocolates. you might want to send a gift basket – beauty products or a tea collection with an elegant teacup.
If you are eating out, you may want to choose a restaurant with meaning for you or one that is going to provide the right Valentine’s Day atmosphere.
The smaller your budget, the more creative you need to be. You can still cover all the standard Valentine’s elements but maybe opt for a Chinese Takeaway with a gift of his and her chopsticks.
Green tea is a refreshing drink that pairs beautifully with oriental food, so an affordable tea gift box, or any of these tea-themed gifts for Valentine’s Day, complements your special night at home together.
The Next Year’s Valentine’s Day
You have survived the fragile first year of marriage and are heading towards your second wedding anniversary.
It is time to show that you are willing to keep the romance alive. If last year’s celebration failed to live up to your wife’s expectations, you have an opportunity to redeem yourself. If it went well, keep the pattern but add in something new.
If last year was a single red rose, replace it with an exotic flower like an orchid or a romantic bouquet of sweet-scented flowers.
Consider if you intend to go to the same restaurant for the next thirty years or if you want to vary your dinner choices.
Lingerie is an excellent gift choice, but do some detective work and make sure you buy the right size.
You can still treat your wife to a romantic night out on a smaller budget – pack up a picnic basket and head out to watch the stars come out. When Valentine’s Day falls at the weekend, you can attend local events or open gardens or picnic in the park.
Spending time together is more important than the amount you spend.
Up to the 5th Anniversary
These are the years when you become comfortable with each other, and you may be starting a family. Children change your relationship because they take time, money, and energy leaving a couple with less time to spend together.
Valentine’s Day is for your wife and not the mother of your children. These are the years when you book a babysitter in advance or send the kids to grandparents so that you can spend time together as a couple.
If you are staying in, a good gift choice is a pamper baskets with luxury cleanser, body lotion, and scented tea-lights so your wife can look forward to some relaxation time.
If the only alone time you can get together is in the morning, consider a beautiful tea set for two with a small kettle. Now you can enjoy a morning cup of tea in peace, before getting out of bed.
Between the 5th and 10th Anniversary
By now, you will have Valentine’s Day approach down to an automatic process. You book a meal in the same restaurant; you buy roses, and the card is either funny or sentimental. You know what sort of chocolates she likes, and you are comfortable with your routine.
If you’ve got into a rut with celebrating Valentine’s Day, it is time to think about what you are doing. Long-term relationships need careful nurturing to grow and thrive.
By this stage as a couple, you may be earning more and can increase the amount you spend on Valentine’s Day, or you might be supporting a growing family and have a tight budget.
Try and surprise your wife – a weekend away or an afternoon tea party for the two of you in a few stolen hours in the garden together.
Is your wife trying to get back in shape after having your children? A thoughtful gift is a glass infuser bottle with some cold tea infusions that she can take with her on trips to the gym or other exercise classes.
Between the 10th and 20th Anniversary
At this stage in most marriages, you have a growing family and busy lives as you both juggle work and home commitments. You are familiar with each other and know what you both enjoy together and apart.
Although you are comfortable with each other, romance is still crucial in nurturing your bond. Valentine’s Day is an annual reminder to pay attention to your wife as the love of your life.
Flowers, chocolates, and cards are always welcome and expected gifts at this time of year. If you want to surprise your wife, you are going to have to think hard – experience days for couples are a way of spending time together, building new memories and make an unusual gift.
Alternatively, you could commission a portrait (photograph or paint) of the two of you.
After Twenty Years
Congratulations on building a strong and stable marriage. You can look forward to children leaving the nest and plenty of time together to rediscover old and new interests.
Do you still celebrate Valentine’s Day after all this time? Why not? You build your shared life out of memories you create, and the annual Valentine’s Day celebration is part of that cycle.
The question you need to ask yourself is – can you still surprise your spouse? A routine is comforting, but no-one wants to stagnate.
This woman has shared your life for over two decades, and by now, you fit comfortably together. You have the intimate knowledge of what her likes and dislikes are and can use that to choose the ideal gift year after year.
An excellent gift-buying strategy at this stage is to replace and upgrade items your wife already owns.
Alternatively, think about travel items like a neat compact tea set (from these tea gifts specially curated for Valentine’s Day) or a picnic hamper that you can enjoy together while visiting your favorite places, celebrating those long years as a married couple.
Young or Old – Love Matters
By celebrating Valentine’s Day with your wife, you can spend time together as a couple and concentrate on your unique and changing relationship. Physical demonstrations of affection are essential for you and your partner’s health and wellbeing.
The giving of gifts to create a bond between males and females crosses over into courting rituals across human cultures and animal pairings!
Penguins give attractive pebbles to their loved ones, for no purpose other than the act of making a gift. Human females are also fond of gifts of stunning rocks.
Romantic gift-giving reinforces your bond with your wife at every stage of your married life from the first fragile year to the relaxed companionship of the golden years together.