Never mind men and women being from different planets, it’s just that we don’t always speak the same language. Never fear – Valentine’s Day is here to translate!

Do you talk cross purposes? Make gestures that get lost in the melee of children, pets, life? Too often our loving intentions towards our Significant Other (SO) get lost in translation. But never fear, far from rinsing us for our hard-earned cash, Valentine’s Day is here, like the lovers’ equivalent of Google Translate. Listen and learn…

Lost in translation

“All I want,” said my mate, “is a cwtch on the sofa and a bonk.” Hers are simple needs, my friends, so how is her hapless husband going wrong? “But he thinks he’s showing me he loves me by boarding the loft ‘for our family’.” She says the last bit in a mocking tone with air quotation marks. It’s a problem.

And it’s not that rare. She has ways of showing love, and so does he. She expects her ways to be reciprocated, and so does he. But like the proverbial ships in the night, their ways don’t converge. The caveman equivalent of skinning a reindeer to use as a new duvet, his loving gestures involve improving their family home, while she’s after romance and seduction.

It’s such a typical problem, that there’s a book about it called The Five Love Languages. It reckons that most relationship troubles stem from faulty comms, and working out – and appreciating – how each of you demonstrate your affection is key. Bearing in mind that we have to communicate over the raucous squalling of our offspring, work demands and the rest of life, this is especially tricky for parents.

The V-day script

In steps Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s grossly commercialised. Yes, you should celebrate your love for another every day (ha!). And no, pastel pink hearts and icky sentiments are not cool. But it does manage expectations for you both.

We all know the V-day script: Card containing poignant message, flowers, chocolate, wine, a meal together. A brief and welcome hiatus from sitting at the opposite ends of the sofa each with a separate screen.

On Valentine’s Day, there’s nothing to lose in translation. My own husband shows his affection by doing housework and cooking. Lovely man, but (in the words of Shania, just because…) that don’t impress me much. Tonight, though, he’ll cook me a meal for Valentines, and I’ll be delighted. I’m a fan of a thoughtful present and oral pleasure, and that will also be on the agenda.

For tonight only*, we’ll speak the same language of love**.

Give her a card, for goodness sake!

So, whatever your feelings towards the Hallmark cards and red roses, now’s your chance to rise up from the scrap heap of work, home, children to share an evening with the women you love. Think outside the box by all means, but don’t worry about diverging too far from the February 14th agenda. A card – homemade or bought, message – funny or serious but always heartfelt, romance, sex, a little gift, food, alcohol. And for heaven’s sake, don’t choose today to board the loft.

*It’s our eldest son’s birthday tomorrow, so tonight starts after we’ve wrapped presents and iced the cake.

**We’re currently not speaking at all.

Rowan Clarke: I’m a writer, open water swimmer, swimming teacher, mum of three, wife of one. www.finsandgoggles,com

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