Can Valentine’s Day be more than just a jaded Hallmark holiday? At some point, we all get tired of trying to come up with ideas, finding the perfect card or jewelry, or making last minute dinner reservations. Cards, flowers, and dinner are great ideas, and here are a few more and less ways to make Valentine’s day less about the holiday and more about you as a couple:
Tips to Make Valentines Day Personal
1) Make it more personal and less commercial. If you did not take the time to find out what your partner enjoys before this, now is the time! Get a list of favorite things from their best friend, or better yet, from them. Whether you create a list of questions to ask, go online for fun and serious topics, or get a book on the subject, we can all get to know our partner better, and face-to-face time over dinner is the perfect opportunity! Don’t forget, our significant other changes, so you may want to re-ask old questions to see if the answers are different. This not only makes the day better and more personable, but it creates a friendship base that will improve your relationship for years (and give ideas for future gifts).
2) Make it more casual and less obligatory. Think of little things you can do throughout the day to show your partner you care and that you are thinking positively of them. Hide notes or flowers in their jacket. Get a heart and put it on the dog. Have lunch delivered to their office as a surprise. Place the cards the kids made in their purse or briefcase. Call ahead to your dinner reservation and have them have their favorite bottle of wine ready. Send them sexy and sweet texts. Wake your partner to heart-shaped pancakes or chocolate covered strawberries. And then build these little surprises into your routine throughout the year.
3) Make it more balanced and less one-sided. Sorry, women, Valentine’s Day is not all about you. You need to put some work in, which does not have to be in sexual favors alone. Men appreciate that, but they want to feel that their interests and hobbies are explored and that they are also special. Take notice of their favorite sport, comedian, hobby, or artist. Even if your spouse did not get it exactly right, be grateful they tried! Show your appreciation for whatever effort they did put in. And, then refer to point one and use this not as a time to belittle or feel hurt but as a time to get to know one another and educate one another gently.
4) Make it more about how much we love each other and less about the crowds or traditions. You don’t need a life-sized cardboard cutout of yourself holding a heart with their name in it to say, “I love you.” Maybe your partner feels loved by a dozen roses to work, a diamond necklace, or that special touch.
Whatever you do, remember you do not have to do it. Love is a choice and takes effort above and beyond this one day a year. We just are lucky enough to have a day set aside to celebrate the ones we love. If you have been fighting more recently or are not feeling the love you had at first, remind yourself that you may not agree on everything but you can still appreciate them for who they are and not who you want them to be. Take this day to turn towards your partner and not away, allow them to influence you, and remember love is our actions, the happy feelings come after.
Jennifer Kempfert is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and couples specialist at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Westminster, CO.