Forget the flowers. What every woman really wants on Valentine’s Day …
Is it to be the dishes, the roses or valeting her car?
By Lizzie Healey
I’ve just read about a woman who thinks love is not four-letter word. And nor does it begin with an F ….
Instead of hearing the three little words every woman is said to want to hear, this mature lady would prefer something more tangible.
She told her partner: “I have erotic dreams about waking up and discovering my car has been valeted.”
Or, when she is late and rushing for the early train to her work, she would appreciate this: “Take it easy. I’ll go out and de-ice the windscreen of your car.”
She is convinced she knows what every woman really wants.
Valentine’s Day is a tricky one. Everyone knows it’s a hackneyed, fraught, overwrought, commercialised, high-pressure day when restaurants are suddenly full of couples horrified at the prospect that they might have to look at each other and not their phones.
And everyone knows that if they ignore it, they’d better come home in an explosive ordnance disposal suit.
So here’s what she suggests: Step away from the roses. Seriously, put them back in the bucket, turn on your heel and walk out of the shop.
You’ll spend 50 quid on them, and we’ll be pleased for five minutes, and in three days, they’ll be as crisp as a packet of Walker’s – two if there’s a radiator nearby.
If you’ve been thinking of making a more cost-effective gesture of the fresh cut floral variety, she’d like you to repeat the following words after her: garage flowers are minus flowers.
She would forget about the flowers altogether. And forget the restaurant.
Why not go home and roast a chicken? Or empty the wash basket in the bedroom and throw the contents into the machine downstairs?
Women are simple creatures really, she tells me. Much simpler than they’re credited with.
You guys are going to tell me that you do all these things anyway, but I’m afraid the data suggests that quite a few of you do not.
The data suggests that some of you have yet to work out where the Hoover lives.
The data, I’m afraid, is damning: 90 per cent of women, according to an EU report in 2017, do housework, compared with less than 50 per cent of men, a gap that hasn’t changed since 2005.
This is partly, I suspect, a generational thing.
In most of the heterosexual relationships I’m told, both partners are heavily involved in the raising of the children.
Many of the men are excellent cooks.
A small but significant minority are brilliant at all of it. If that’s you, carry on – turn to the restaurant review, and start making plans for Valentine’s Day. Or maybe your other will look all that?
A much larger number of relationships, however, are still carved out along traditional lines, moulded to suit the demands of a very different generation, at a very different time.
Many modern relationships are no longer fit for purpose.
We’re talking here particularly about the relationships in which women carry the “double burden”.
They work during the day in a job they might not even love, but upon whose salary the family depends.
And then they come home and cook the dinner and organise the childcare schedules and the after-school activities and the school lunches and the laundry and remember what day the Brownies are on and who needs school shoes.
And all the while they’re thinking about that email they forgot to send before they left the office and wondering when they can get back to their phone to send it.
They feel constantly guilty that they’re doing none of it as well as they feel they should, that they can’t be in two places at once and that sometimes.
Inevitably things slip through the net.
If they complain about any of this, they’re nagging or whining or moaning or being a killjoy, all terms that serve nicely to keep women in their place.
Feeling exhausted, guilty and overwhelmed is not the preserve of women with salaried jobs, either.
She knows many women who are at home full-time who are overwhelmed.
Or they feel guilty about the careers they’ve – maybe only temporarily – left behind.
Or worried that they’re not contributing financially.
Or guilty about the fact that if they have to hear one of the episodes from Silent Witness described again, they might actually smash something.
She suspects what many women in a heterosexual relationship would most like on Valentine’s Day is a break.
Love isn’t roses or remembering to book a table. It is not George Clooney standing by a coffee machine on the terrace of five-star hotel, looking around murmuring|: “I will find you.”
That’s not sexy, it’s stalker like.
What’s sexy is someone who gets out of bed when you’re running late for the early train, and de-ices the windows of your car.
It’s someone who notices all the things you do and often says “Here, let me handle that.”
It’s someone who feels thrilled and not threatened by your independence.
“It’s someone who says: “Go for it. I’m right at your back here. Don’t worry about a thing, I’ll manage everything at home.”
I suspect those are the words every woman wants to hear. Not “I love you” or “Here’s a token gesture of the fresh cut floral variety.” Just “go for it” and “I’ll handle that”.