Fun Fact: Valentine’s Day will be on February 14th this year. Same as last year and same as next year. And, same as last year and same as next year, many professed happy couples will wake up on the 14th with much dread.
A recent survey showed that 74% of couples either dread or are indifferent towards Valentine’s Day.
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Why Do Couples Have Mixed Feelings About Valentine’s Day?
Why would so many couples approach Valentine’s Day with dread or indifference? After all, this is a day supposedly focused on expressing how they feel about their significant other.
Surveys show that women feel this way because they worry their spouse will either:
- not like their gift,
- give them a gift they don’t like,
- not try to make the day special,
- or just go through the motions out of obligation.
Guys, on the other hand, generally have a negative or indifferent feeling towards Valentine’s Day because they feel pressured into being Mr. Romantic. Some feel they are supposed to create a fairy tale type story and have no earthly idea how to do that.
My Own Valentine’s Day Dread
There was a time when I dreaded Valentine’s Day.
I saw it as an overly commercialized day designed to sell cards, candy, and flowers. Valentine’s Day was just a day to stress people out and pressure them to become some sort of romantic superhero for one day out of the year.
But, as we all must do, I learned.
I was wrong about Valentine’s Day and my approach. My was focused on how I felt about the day and not what it meant to my wife and our relationship. I missed the point of what Valentine’s Day had to offer us.
I developed an appreciation for what Valentine’s Day is really about and how it can strengthen our marriage.
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3 Powerful Lessons from Valentine’s Day
Lesson #1: Connecting
When I was a younger, I loved to play video games. One of the great things about playing those games was if you weren’t doing as well as you’d like, you could just hit the reset button.
The reset button would bring you back to an initial staring point. It would allow you to regroup and refocus if you felt like you were getting off track.
Valentine’s Day is kinda the same concept for your relationship. It is an opportunity to hit the reset button (or in the case of your relationship) – hit the reconnect button.
As we’ve discussed before in Build a Happy Marriage: Learn How Now, it’s very easy to get stuck in routines in our relationships. We struggle with all the demands of family, kids, work, etc., and our marriages take a back seat. We lose that connection with each other.
Valentine’s Day is a time to hit the reconnect button and focus on the importance of your relationship and connect with your spouse. It is a time to remind each other that your marriage is the most important part of your lives.
Yes, I know that you could do that very same thing on any given day of the year (and you should), but what I learned is that Valentine’s Day is a preset day to reconnect with each other. A relationship alarm clock, if you will.
So, how do you make that connection with your spouse on Valentine’s Day? There are lots and lots of ways, but the most important should go without saying – Time.
You need to establish some time for you and your spouse to connect. It may be over dinner that night, a picnic, a quiet meal at home, etc. It doesn’t matter how as long as it is something that is meaningful to you both.
Once you establish when and where you and your spouse will spend some Valentine’s Day Quality Time, you need to think about what actionable steps you can take to connect with your spouse.
Dr. Jamie Long identified 12 great ways to connect with your spouse. Her post has great information on how to connect with your spouse.
Below are nine of the steps from Dr. Long. Please read her full post here.
1. Daily Touch: Don’t let the sun set on the day before you at least touch your spouse. Whether it be a kiss, a high-five, holding hands, a hug, or a back scratch — humans need physical contact, it’s one of our most basic needs! No matter the type of touch, make it last for 30 seconds. Any kiss over five seconds has wonderful possibilities.
2. Be Curious: Ditch the obligatory “How was your day?” and replace it with unique, thought provoking, open-ended questions. Demonstrating genuine interest in your partner and opening dialogue shows that you C.A.R.E. and enhances one of the joys of marriage — the sharing of lives.
3. Relive a Memory: When two people feel disconnected, it’s important to remember what brought them together in the first place. Every now and again, share a memory from the courtship or an especially loving time. Relive a funny story, a touching moment, or look through some old photos.
4. Create New Memories: Boredom and predictable routine can suck the life out of any relationship. Lack of intensity can sometimes be confused as lack of intimacy. It’s important to try new adventures and create new rituals of affection. Not all new memories need to be elaborate. For instance, just before going to bed, step outside to gaze upon the stars together or discuss your ideas for a future date night.
Related Post: 8 Inexpensive Date Ideas To Build Your Relationship
5. Listen to him or her: You may know your spouse better than anyone, but making assumptions regarding what the other person intends to communicate is a potentially damaging mistake. Instead of assuming what your spouse means, try asking more questions or simply reflecting back what you heard. For example: “I think you are saying…, Did you mean…?, etc.”
6. Share a laugh: When things get tense, remember the humor in it all. Humor can reduce tension and lighten the mood. Think about what makes you and your spouse laugh and share it. Likewise, don’t forget to laugh at his or her jokes, it’s polite! According to research by Dr. John Gottman, sharing humor with your partner is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your relationship.
7. Expressions of loving-kindness: People in successful relationships treat others with love and kindness, expressed through kind thoughts, loving words, and kind actions. Think of the smile on your spouse’s face when you post a loving sticky-note onto the car’s dashboard or write a message via the steam on the bathroom mirror. L-O-V-E.
8. Flirt: If you want to emotionally and physically connect with your spouse, it’s more likely to happen with some effort and dialogue. In other words, wear something special that you would on your honeymoon or behave like you’re going on the first date. Couples who make an effort to mate, copulate! Also, couples who talk about sex have better sex and more of it! Don’t know what to talk about? Try downloading relationship apps (here) to your phone or computer that are intended to deepen your understanding of your partner and create more intimacy.
9. Turn off the electronics: We live in a world of electronic overload: DVR, laptops, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, plus a plethora of i-Gadgets. Switch your whatchamacallit to the off position then do #8.
Use the tips found above an in Dr. Long’s full post to help create a special Valentine’s Day!
Lesson #2: Communicating
What often stresses people (fellas I’m really looking at you here) out about Valentine’s Day is that they know they’re supposed to be romantic and all, but really have no idea what that means or how to do it. They get frustrated when the candy, gift, etc., they got for their spouse just didn’t have the impact they had hoped.
What went wrong?
At the last minute, they got a gift or did something they “thought” “should” make their spouse feel loved and happy.
In reality, they should “know” what “will” make their spouse happy.
In order to do that, you have to understand what you do and can do that makes our spouse feel loved. What are their Love Languages? What actions can we take to make them feel more secure in our relationship?
Note: If you are not familiar with The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. I strongly encourage you to read it. It had a great impact on our marriage and can yours as well.
You can purchase a copy here.
The answer to that comes from a concerted and consistent desire to know your spouse. It doesn’t happen on the night of February 13th in front of the card section of the local drug store.
We have to communicate with our spouse (verbally and non-verbally) to fully understand how they interpret love and what is important to them.
Remember, your spouse is the most important person in your life. Only through knowing them can you expect to make Valentine’s Day special.
In addition to communicating with your spouse to better understand how they interpret love, you also must communicate Valentine’s Day expectations with each other.
As mentioned above, women often dread Valentine’s Day for different reasons than men.
How do we resolve this?
Again, proper communication is your friend here. You need to communicate as a couple the expectations for Valentine’s Day. A couple things you can do to take the stress out of Valentine’s Day:
- Discuss a gift price limit – Anne and I give cards every year with hand written notes. The words written on the cards mean a great deal to us and gives us individually a chance to express how we feel. In addition, we’ve established the parameters of the gift giving. We take the pressure of gift giving off so we can focus on what is more important to us. You and your spouse may approach gift giving a little different, but make sure you both agree on the gift giving parameters.
- Plan together – planning a romantic Valentine’s Day can be very stressful. This is particularly the case if you have not been together all that long. You may still be learning their Love Languages and their likes and dislikes. Working together on a plan can eliminate a lot of stress for you both and help make the day special.
Lesson #3: Celebrating
The most important thing I learned about Valentine’s Day is that it should be a day to celebrate your relationship. It should not be full of stress, dread, or indifference.
This is your time to show your spouse how much you love them and how much your relationship means to you.
Don’t stress about Valentine’s Day. Embrace it. Welcome it.
If in the past you and your spouse have taken a ho-hum attitude towards Valentine’s Day, then I challenge you to rethink your approach.
Sit down with your spouse and let them know that you want this year to be a day to reconnect and celebrate your relationship.
Yes, they may look at you a bit funny, but inside they will appreciate your effort and commitment to the relationship.
Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity for your relationship. It is the time to refocus on your relationship. It is a time to put into action the things that you know will make your spouse feel loved and appreciated.
If you want to have a happy and successful marriage, then you have to understand that it takes effort from you both.
You can’t say “I do” then kick back and enjoy a carefree ride to a blissful, wonderful life together. From my experience, it just doesn’t work that way.
You must learn to better understand your spouse and their needs in your relationship. You must learn to embrace opportunities to show your love and commitment to them and your life together. Valentine’s Day is just such an opportunity.
These are the lessons that I learned from Valentine’s Day. That is it is a time connect, communicate and celebrate with my wife.
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Until next time, God bless
Steve and Anne