Does your partner prepare for Valentine’s Day weeks in advance? If so, consider yourself lucky. Many people wait with bated breath wondering if their partners will remember to plan anything prior to February 14 and are deeply wounded when the day arrives and it doesn’t go as they’d imagined.
In the beginning of my marriage to Bob, a fellow therapist, I was one of those people, so this was especially important for me to understand. Here’s the conversation I had with myself: I know Bob loves me and would never intend to hurt me. But how could he forget Valentine’s Day or not know the significance of the day to me? Why did he think it was OK to go out the morning of Valentine’s Day and get me a last-minute card and a box of chocolates? If he really loved me, he would have remembered and known exactly what I wanted.
When I confronted him about this, he said, “Why didn’t you tell me it was so important to you?”
I could feel the blood rush to my face. “If I had to remind you about Valentine’s Day,” I said, “it would mean you got me a gift just because I asked.” In other words, it would diminish the value of his effort.
He went on to explain that in his family, Valentine’s Day wasn’t celebrated. They didn’t even make a fuss over each other’s birthdays. He’d never had a birthday party growing up. He also asked why I hadn’t planned something for Valentine’s Day. Hmm. I’d never thought of that; what century was I living in?
We learned a lot that day. I recognized that Bob couldn’t mind-read. I realized not to rush to judgment if he did something that hurt me. I also learned if I had asked for what I wanted, he still would have put forth effort to please me, just not in the form of a surprise. He learned to be more aware and not assume what was or wasn’t important to me, but to ask.
If you are anxious about Valentine’s Day, here’s my advice: Forget the surprise. Don’t wait. Talk with your partner and set the two of you up to have a memorable Valentine’s Day. After all, would you rather be in on the planning and have a great day or worry until the morning of February 14 and chance being disappointed and miserable?
Here are three tips to light a fire under your Valentine’s Day:
1. Plan Your Day Together
Talk ahead of time about how you want to celebrate. You can be creative and write a note or text about a fantasy date and ask your partner to respond with ideas. Or remind your partner about a particularly fun date you shared in the past and paint a picture of how wonderful it would be to do that again.
Some other ideas:
- Plan a romantic weekend or overnight getaway
- Go on a local day trip together
- Create a romantic dinner with all the trimmings
- Write love letters to each other
- Give each other love vouchers
- Send the kids out and have a romantic date at home
2. Pour on the Gratitude
Emotional intimacy is the result of the day-in, day-out “little things” that couples do for each other to express love. In our hurried lives, it’s easy to overlook them. Valentine’s Day is a reminder that those gestures feel great and build connection.
Try expressing gratitude for all the little things your partner does that make you feel good. Be specific. Not only will your partner feel acknowledged, but knowing specifics about what makes you feel good may make it more likely those things continue to happen.
3. Practice Loving Rituals
Use this as an opportunity to jump-start loving habits year round. Make “love lists”—as in, “It would make me feel loved if you would …” Then put forth the effort to do those things.
Some examples follow:
- 10-second hugs
- Cuddles when you go to sleep and wake up
- Real goodbye kisses; more than a peck on the cheek
- Loving words of affirmation, compliments, and appreciation
- Gestures of service; take something off your partner’s list
- Meaningful tokens such as a flower or favorite food
- Loving notes (surprise your partner)
What have you done in the past to make the most of Valentine’s Day? What will you do this year? Please share your comments below.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.