3 Simple Ways to Light a Fire Under Your Valentine’s Day

Man covers woman's eyes for surprise giftDoes 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.

© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD, therapist in Owings Mills, Maryland

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.

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  • Angela

    Angela

    February 4th, 2016 at 10:35 AM

    The one thing that always makes me the happiest no matter who it comes form is when someone that I know I have helped shows me a little bit of gratitude. They don’t act as if they were entitled to that help, they profess that I actually helped them out with something and they appreciate it. That’s just a little thing but it sure does always make me feel much better.

  • adyson T

    adyson T

    February 4th, 2016 at 3:50 PM

    If my boyfriend would just remember that it was V Day then I would be happy

  • Lori Hollander

    Lori Hollander

    February 4th, 2016 at 6:19 PM

    Angela, Helping someone is a wonderful gift. And when that person expresses gratitude, they give a gift back. It’s a validation of your caring. Thanks so much for sharing! Lori

  • Lori Hollander

    Lori Hollander

    February 4th, 2016 at 6:22 PM

    Adyson, I hope you talk to him and tell him what it means to you. Thanks for your comment.
    Lori

  • adyson T

    adyson T

    February 5th, 2016 at 7:28 AM

    I don’t know that I have ever directly talked to him about it and how it would man a lot to me but you know, I have dropped hints and things like that and he still seems pretty clueless about it. I don’t want to come off as unreasonable but it starts to feel like if there are things that he has no idea that are important to me then how do I even know that this is a person that I would want to spend the rest of my life with?

  • Leigh

    Leigh

    February 6th, 2016 at 6:42 AM

    I think that you do good things for your partner not because it is a specific day of the year but because you love them. The calendar should not be the things that dictates when you are going to go out or when you are going to take the opportunity to show someone that you love them. You do it all the time and then there is no need to make this big deal on the Hallmark holidays. Anyway that’s just my two cents worth.

  • Lori Hollander

    Lori Hollander

    February 6th, 2016 at 9:26 AM

    Adyson, If he doesn’t know what’s important to you, ask yourself: Is it because he isn’t a caring partner, or because I haven’t shared enough of myself with him. We often think if people really care about us they will pick up on hints; however some people don’t. Not because they don’t care but because they don’t pay attention to details. If he has other important qualities like trustworthiness and loyalty, I would start teaching him more what about what makes you feel loved. And ask him what makes him feel loved. Communication is the A#1 skill that is needed to make relationships last a lifetime. Best wishes, Lori

  • Lori Hollander

    Lori Hollander

    February 7th, 2016 at 8:41 AM

    Leigh, I totally agree that people should express love and doing loving things for their partner 365 days a year. What we see in practice is that for many busy couples, especially those with young children and building careers, often “forget” to do this; not on purpose, but because everything else becomes a priority and the relationship slips to the bottom of the list. I look at Valentines Day as a “reminder” to express love daily, like Thanksgiving is a reminder to be grateful for all we have and to express gratitude to those we love. Thanks for your two cents!
    Lori

  • Hank

    Hank

    February 8th, 2016 at 6:23 AM

    I am one of the sappy dudes who actually likes to make my lady feel special on Valentine’s Day. She might not ever say that she wants that, but i do it anyway. I just think that this is the perfect time to make that hopefully perfect gesture to show her just how much she means to me. And it is nice because usually she reciprocates and does the same for me so it is just that one day pr weekend when we can let one another know just how much we care.

  • Lori Hollander

    Lori Hollander

    February 8th, 2016 at 10:05 AM

    Hank, Your partner is one lucky lady! Keep on loving… Thanks for sharing. Lori

  • Hank

    Hank

    February 10th, 2016 at 7:29 AM

    lol thanks Lori! I will be sure to let her see just how lucky you believe that she is, you know, just so she remembers and all! ;)

  • Ric

    Ric

    February 15th, 2016 at 10:30 AM

    Don’t you think that there are far more expectations put on guys about what they will do on V Day to make it special for their girl but the ladies are really not expected to do anything for us?

  • Lori Hollander

    Lori Hollander

    February 15th, 2016 at 11:42 AM

    Ric, I totally agree with you!! It’s interesting that even though it is the millennium, the general feeling people have is that the man gives and the woman receives (with heterosexual couples); or at least the man “should” take the lead. The DNA from Caveman/Cavewoman days lives on. Maybe we should take a lesson from gay couples. I’m not sure how they navigate Valentines Day. Thanks for your comment. Lori

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