R. D. Langr is a stay-at-home dad to one beautiful daughter. He has a background in psychology and an intuitive grasp of relationships.
How to Not Suck at Valentine's Day
*Raise Your Hand*
Can I get an "amen" from all the people that hate Valentine's day? I'll admit, even though I'm generally a bleeding-heart romantic, I have trouble with the whole idea of the Holiday of Love. Greeting cards, expensive chocolates, and a plant dies within a week doesn't scream "Love!" to me. Not only do I hate the overly commercialized and superfluously romanticized hullabaloo, but I'd like to think that I should celebrate my marriage and love for my wife every day.
Why set aside just one day for a celebration of something so great?
Because it's important to my wife, so I try. So whether you're clueless, cold, or anti-commercialism, here are some things to consider so you don't spend the year's most romantic holiday on the couch wondering where you went wrong.
1. Fake It Till You Make It
Sometimes, just by the act of doing something, we begin to like it. Often caring about someone requires us to do things we don't like. So suck it up, look at it as a chance for personal growth, and try to find the silver lining in celebrating Valentine's day. Here's some possible bright sides:
Your spouse or S/O might appreciate it.
It's a reason to go out to a nice dinner or see that movie you've been meaning to see.
It's a reason to get away from the kids.
You're supporting a billion dollar greeting card industry and keeping the economy from collapsing.
It'll be one less thing to fight about, "Remember that time when..."
It'll be one more thing to reminisce about "Remember that time when..."
2. Indulge in the Romance
It's true that love is more than just romance, at its core it's about commitment, but occasional romance is need for a healthy, robust relationship for most couples. So use the holiday as an excuse to practice being romantic. If you don't know how (or aren't good) at being romantic, you can ask your S/O for ideas, or try some of these basic ones:
Cook their favorite meal (even if you burn it, it will give you something to laugh about together), or take them out to their favorite restaurant. This can be even more romantic if you do "breakfast in bed".
Write a sappy love note, poem, or song. It's even more romantic if you have a bad singing voice.
Get her jewelry with her birth stone or favorite jewel.
Watch their favorite movie, or a movie you've been putting off seeing.
At its heart, romance is just going out of your way to think of the other person in a special way.
3. Don't Do It for Sex
We all know what's on the mind of most men all throughout Valentine's day. Seriously though, you're not entitled to sex just because its Valentine's Day or you spent a lot of money. Not only will expecting this possibly lead to disappointment on your part or a huge fight at the end of the day, but it also sullies the quality your romantic statement. Ideally, you should want to show your partner love because you want to give something to them without expectation of a return.
Granted, none of us do that 100% of the time, but use the holiday to make a special effort to give selflessly and without expectation.
4. Don't Fixate Too Hard on the Money
Of course you don't want to completely blow your budget and cripple your financial situation for the next year just so you can have a good Valentine's day... but make money a secondary concern for this day.
Maybe your partner would really enjoy an expensive dinner, or you need to pay for a babysitter so you can go out and do something free. Either plan a couple months in advance to save up for Valentine's day, or make some other sacrifice so you can give your partner a special gift on this night. It's the sacrifice of something that's normally important to you that makes the gift even more meaningful.
5. Use Words of Love Wisely
We all have specific ways in which we give and receive love, these are called the Five Love Languages. If you haven't heard of them before, I highly suggest checking them out and finding how you and your significant other express love. Here are the five ways:
- Words of Affirmation: Hearing things such as "I love you", "you look great", "I'm so thankful for you", or "That spaghetti was amazing" is how these people feel loved, or how they express love.
- Quality Time: These people give/receive love by spending time with other people. It's not just sitting down and co-existing, but engaging in intentional time where memories and intimacy are created.
- Gifts: These people love to give and receive gifts!
- Acts of Service: Doing things for others how these people express love, and they receive love by having little things done for them (washing dishes, a foot rub, taking out the trash).
- Physical Touch: It's not just sex (which could be in a whole different category), but above and beyond that, people who speak this love language enjoy massages, cuddling, or even fleeting touches as you pass by each other.
The value of knowing your partner's love language is that you can use it to plan what kind of Valentines you will have. Will you give them a gift, spend some quality time together, or write a mushy poem about how much you love them?
6. Don't Forget to Plan!
Whatever you do, do not leave it until the last minute to plan. Valentine's is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants, and some people make plans months in advance. Not planning can lead to being disorganized, or plain old missing out on opportunities.
Failing to adequately plan is one of the biggest causes of Valentine's fights, so do yourself, and your relationship, a solid and give yourself a week minimum!