Expect Less, Be Happier

I saw this inspirational quote in a CBC story related to Valentine’s Day:

“When it comes to concrete, specific things that your partner does for you, the fewer things you expect on a day-to-day basis, the happier you are,” says Samantha Joel. She’s a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto whose psychology research delves deeply into romantic relationships.

In other words: set the bar low.

I get it. Expectations can be tricky.

For our first Christmas, by which point we’d been living together for three months, my husband bought me a beautiful hand-crafted jewellery box with my name engraved on a gold plate on top. He followed it up the next year with a gorgeous set of diamond earrings. These are traditional, expensive gifts. Exactly what the media says all women want.

Except I don’t wear jewellery. Ever. I used to force myself to wear earrings for formal occasions, but eventually I stopped that too. I wear my wedding ring and my MedicAlert bracelet, and that’s about it. You’d think he might have noticed.

Sadly, he’s not the only one to get suckered into media-induced stereotypes. One year I bought him a snazzy pull cart for his golf clubs. It was lightweight and compact and could easily fold into the trunk of his car. Perfect.

Except he never goes golfing. He took lessons with me shortly after we were married, and he played a few rounds, but then he just stopped. Somehow I never noticed. After all, I like to golf.

So we’ve given up on grand gestures. Especially when it comes to Valentine’s Day. In that sense, I think Samantha Joel is right. If you’re expecting to be wowed, you’re just going to be disappointed.

This year, I hid a Hershey’s kiss in his car with a note wishing him a happy Valentine’s Day. He loves chocolate and I never let him have any. He loved it.

It really is the little things that count.