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We know what’s expected on Valentine’s Day: romantic gifts (flowers, chocolate) and an exchange of cards expressing love for each other. Perhaps there is a candle-lit dinner for two.

The problem is the customary Valentine’s Day activities ignore the real issues many relationships face.

It obscures real issues

Many relationships are deeply troubled. Treating your spouse or partner in an especially solicitous way one day of the year isn’t going to resolve these problems. To the contrary, it may cause you to ignore significant issues.

As I discuss in my new book, Ask: How to Relate to Anyone, there’s a serious dissonance between the idealized view of marriage reinforced by celebrating Valentine’s Day and the stark reality confronting many relationships.

Dana Adam Shapiro, the author of You Can Be Right (or You Can Be Married): Looking for Love in the Age of Divorce, estimates only 17% of couples are happy.