Family Matters: Love is all we need

Expert Shimrit Nothman gives her advice on how to celebrate Tu Be'av the right way.

Tu Be'av (photo credit: Thinkstock)
Tu Be'av
(photo credit: Thinkstock)
Tu Be’av, the 15th day of the month of Av, is celebrated each year in Israel as the a celebration of love, very similar to Valentine’s Day. So what brings me, with a column dealing with conflicts in the family, to discuss this wonderful event? A day celebrating love couldn’t possibly go wrong, could it?
Some brief research reveals two main questions about conflicts related to the holiday that is intended to be a day for lovers.
Should we celebrate Tu Be’av as a couple?
I was a bit surprised to find that in this case men really are from Mars and women are truly from Venus.
It seems very obvious to most women that marking this day is almost as important as celebrating their birthday or anniversary. Women believe that this serves as a perfect occasion to leave the hardships of marital life aside for one day and just spend time with their spouse. This day should serve as a reminder for them both about how much love they have for the other.
Most men, on the other hand, say that love should be celebrated every day, and not just on a specific date. That’s what they say, anyway – though perhaps it really has more to do with the sudden increase in the price of flowers, chocolate and all other ‘Love Day’ related gifts.
How should we celebrate it?
Even when both partners agree celebrating this day together is a good idea, there may be disagreements about the nature of such celebration; Should we go out and where to? Who should be in-charge of organizing it? Do we buy each other gifts and how expensive should those be?
With Tu Be’av approaching, here are some tips that might aid us with this most complex of holidays:

Oh, was that yesterday?
In life each of us initiates sometimes and expects our partner to initiate at others.
Funnily enough, it seems that women expect their partners to make a romantic gesture and come up with an amazing plan for this day, while at the same time men expect their partners to take control and organize an event that would suit them both. This might be the reason why so many men remember it was Tu Be’av on the day after, and even only after their “better halves” have given them the cold shoulder all through the previous night. So unless you’re certain that your partner is organizing a romantic getaway as a surprise, it might be a good idea to broach the subject and discuss your expectations beforehand. It may be that your partner is not firmly against celebrating, but that he doesn’t want to be in charge of the planning.  
It’s all about the money
Flowers may not be to everyone’s taste, but sometimes one flower given with a smile can make someone’s day. Others will be waiting to receive that beautiful diamond necklace they’ve been pointing out to their partner, every time they pass the jewelry shop together. And what about the men? Would they like to receive a present as well? Some would appreciate a good massage and some would prefer not going into the red, again, this month.
It’s better not to assume your partner knows exactly what he’s expected to give you. Also don’t assume your partner wants to get a present similar in price. The best option may be to ask them for what you want and to learn from them about their preferences. This way you limit the chances your husband brings you a jewelry box instead of the necklace you wanted, or that your wife sends you off to a Yoga weekend when all you really wanted was a nice evening out with her.
Does money equal love?
We often tend to interpret the value of gifts as reflecting the opinion people have of us.  If my husband spent 300 dollars on a present for me, it can mean that he cares about me deeply. But what happens if last year he spent 400 dollars and this year only 300 dollars? Saying: “love can’t be measured” is probably true, but emotionally it’s hard for us to embrace that thought.
The two best tools at our disposal are awareness of our sensitivity to this issue, which might help us reduce our self-image anxieties; and taking matters into our own hands, making sure that our partner understands the value of a present we’re expecting to receive.
Shimrit Nothman has a Masters degree in Conflict Resolution and believes that like charity, conflict resolution begins at home. If you have any questions for Shimrit, please use the comments section below or email her at
This column is brought to you as general information only and should not be a replacement for professional advice.