Metro-East Living

Valentine’s Day dilemmas and how to properly solve them

Q: My college daughter has a boyfriend now and she tells me she is getting him candy and flowers for Valentine’s Day. I thought it was men who gave women candy and flowers. When I made that comment to her, she was quick to tell me I needed “to get with it.” I decided to ask you if this is something I’ve been missing or is it something new? Do I “need to get with it”?

A: It has been a long-standing tradition for males to give females candy and flowers on Valentine’s Day and women would give their special male a Valentine’s Day card and perhaps prepare them a special romantic dinner. As women have become more assertive throughout the years, it has not been uncommon for them to give their boyfriends candy and flowers, along with a special card, and forget about making dinner because they, too, are in the workforce and do not have the time to do so. Men are more likely to give flowers and take their special lady out for a wonderful dinner.

Since there is no etiquette rule dictating what a female must do and what a male must do for this special day, it is your daughter’s choice to do as she wishes for her boyfriend. Although Valentine’s Day is considered to be the biggest business day for florists, more flowers continue to be purchased by men for women than the reverse. Having said that, Valentine’s Day, in my opinion, remains a day when females would not lose any status or power if they were to allow their male sweethearts to spoil them with candy, flowers, cards and dinner and not feel they needed to reciprocate with anything but a card. But ... then, perhaps I would not “be with it” either.

Q: My husband made reservations for us to go to our favorite restaurant for Valentine’s Day. A couple of days later, I realized Ash Wednesday fell on Valentine’s Day as well. That is a church evening for me and I always give up sweets and wine for Lent so I chose to cancel the dinner reservation and told my husband we would reschedule our dinner after Easter, and to forget about getting me my favorite candy. Oooops ... he was not a happy camper because he had already bought the candy and didn’t agree with my canceling the dinner reservation. Not sure why he was so upset because we always go to church together on Ash Wednesday. What do I do?

A: First of all, you usurped your authority; therefore, you need to apologize for canceling the dinner reservation he made without discussing the situation with him first and allowing him to cancel the reservation.

Secondly, you could prepare a special dinner for the both of you before church, if possible, sans the wine and sweets. If there is not enough time for dinner before church, surprise him with the dinner on Friday, Saturday or Sunday evening.

Third, thank him again for the thoughtful purchase of your favorite candy and offer to freeze it until after Easter.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Dianne Isbell at Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to