February is the month when love is in the air. You see couples and red hearts everywhere in the stores and romantic commercials on TV for diamonds, flowers, perfume and lingerie. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the media barrage to do something big on this day of love.
I’ve been married for 23 years and I’m trying to figure out what to do that would be special and new for my husband on Valentine’s Day. I also have been a relationship expert for over a decade and I “should” know what and how to do it best on the day set aside each year for romancing. Yes, this is my day, my holiday, and my time to shine…..right????
But in the end, I’m just like you. I feel stressed and confused. I’ve given my husband the typical romantic cards, books, framed photos and jewelry. I’ve even surprised him with the unexpected and amorous gifts: sexy underwear, a couples cooking class, coupon for a massage, tickets to a sporting event, an exciting treasure hunt around the city ending up at a hotel for the night, and an exhilarating hot air balloon ride for two!
I have tried all the possible permutations of romance, excitement, and fun. I have read my books, listened to my advice, and made sure that I incorporated all my science-based strategies into making this day of romance and red hearts extremely special! I don’t have the time to plan an exotic vacation away for two – I am busy with work deadlines, children, and all the other responsibilities of life. Also, the weather in Michigan surely doesn’t help. I can’t plan a hike through a nature trail with a dreamy picnic for two, walk on the beach at night, or visit a local amusement park, winery, or outdoor café. These are all activities I would normally recommend for igniting the passion in a romantic relationship.
Help!? How can a relationship expert make Valentine’s Day special this year?
But wait – hold on. Why am I pressuring myself to create some major gesture of affection for my husband just because it’s Valentine’s Day? Like me, if you’re feeling stress to give your sweetheart something special this year, or if you’re without a date or partner, slow down and remember that there’s another way to look at this day. The day of love is just another day. It merely serves as a reminder to practice simple acts of kindness and express appreciation for all the special people in our lives.
Below, I share my simple tips for Valentine’s Day. The good news is that they aren’t expensive nor do they take a lot of time to plan.
1. Valentine’s Day is a day to show gratitude to many. The day actually serves as a reminder to practice simple acts of kindness and express gratitude for all the special people in your life (family, friends, children, work colleagues). Rejoice and appreciate the important people who make you happy. Send heartfelt thoughts and expressions their way. Greeting cards, texts or email messages are an excellent choice to show you care. Just let them know that they are valued and special.
2. Valentine’s Day is a day to be good to you. We often spend a lot of time on others, but forget that we need to be kind and be good to ourselves. Make a list of 5 things you’ve been meaning to do for yourself. These are things you’ve said: “I really need to do that for myself one of these days!!” For example, you may have wanted to get a massage, buy an electronic gadget, go relax at a coffee shop and read the paper quietly by yourself, walk around the mall, have dinner at your favorite restaurant, or join a gym. Pick two things on your list and give yourself a special gift on Valentine’s Day.
3. Valentine’s Day is a day to do something fun. Look in your local newspaper or magazine for a fun event to celebrate Valentine’s Day. There are always events in your community planned for the entire weekend at bars, restaurants, wineries and gyms. Health clubs may have tennis or golf tournaments and restaurants may have wine tasting parties, where everyone (singles and couples) is welcomed and encouraged. Go find an activity and don’t sit at home that night. If you’re single, call a friend to attend the event or party with you, and stay upbeat and positive because you just never know when Cupid will strike.
4. Valentine’s Day is a day to “say I love you”. If you’re in a special relationship, don’t let the day pass without letting your partner know how much you appreciate him/her – with specific examples. Don’t think of Valentine’s Day as a commercial holiday created to sell chocolates and flowers. A simple handwritten note telling your partner why you’d still choose him/her if you had to it all over again says “I love you” more than any store bought card. Or, think of it as a day to spend quality time with your partner. It can be as elaborate as eating out at a nice restaurant, or as simple as snuggling up on the couch to watch a movie. And if mushy romanticism isn’t for you, think of something your partner really needs. Zero in on something your partner would really like because that says – “I’m thinking of you.” Get his car detailed. Replace her tattered briefcase. Buy him that book he has wanted to read. Find that cell phone case she needs. Such thoughtfulness is a turn-on and shows you really care about your partner.
Dr. Terri Orbuch (aka The Love Doctor®) is a relationship expert for OurTime.com, as well as a professor, therapist, research scientist, and author of 5 best-selling books, including “Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship,” available on Amazon.com. Learn more about her at: DrTerriTheLoveDoctor.com.