NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Men dread Valentine's Day. Or not. It seems men expect nearly $230 to be spent on them on the day of hearts and flowers, while women expect gifts totaling just $196. But get this disconnect: women plan to spend $71, while men are budgeting $98 for Valentine's Day presents. Seems everybody could be disappointed.

And then there are the modest men (43%) and women (22%) who expect no Valentine gifts at all, according to a survey by Chase Card Services.

Don't believe it.

Americans in a relationship expect an average of $240 to be spent on them – and they're hoping for a surprise. More than two-thirds (69%) of those surveyed would prefer their romantic partner surprise them rather than pick out their own Valentine's Day gift (31%).

Asked to choose between two Valentine's Day favorites, 60% of respondents preferred chocolates to flowers (40%). And 64% would rather go out to dinner at a restaurant than stay in for a home-cooked meal (36%).

And while surveys are always subject to mathematical aberration, this particular stat seems shaky at best: 60% of those surveyed said they would prefer the "latest technology item" rather than jewelry (40%). Good luck with that.

But beyond romance, couples face money mingling issues, too. Nearly half (45%) of Americans feel that being in a relationship makes it harder to manage their money, while only 26% believe it makes it easier. However, most couples (65%) admitted they have combined, or would combine, all or some of their finances with their spouse or significant other.

Two-thirds (66%) feel the right time to combine finances – by opening things like joint checking and savings accounts or credit cards – is after marriage. Only a few of the respondents believed that a financial union is best made when moving in together (9%), or once engaged (6%).

The National Retail Federation expects Valentine's Day spending this year to top $17 billion. And the NRF says the spending won't be just between couples -- people will show their appreciation for family members (59.4%), friends (21.7%), teachers (20.4%) and colleagues (12.1%). Nearly one in five (19.4%) will buy Valentine's Day gifts for their pets -- spending an average of $5.51 per furry friend.

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet