Heart-shaped candies. Greeting cards. Stuffed animals. Jewelry. Expensive dinners. Red, pink and white roses. It’s hard not to notice that Valentine’s Day has arrived. In America, retail stores and restaurants make sure no one forgets this holiday. However, the focus on purchasing gifts and cards and going out to eat takes away from the deeper expression of love that should be part of the celebration. And these basic Valentine’s Day sentiments should be expressed every day of the year, not just on February 14th.
If you are newly in love, you likely express your feelings both verbally and physically often and shower the object of your affection with flowers and love-laced poems, cards, and gifts on a regular basis. If you enjoy a long-term relationship, however, you might forget to say “I love you” or to show your spouse or significant other regularly that he or she is appreciated and adored. For those in this latter category, Valentine’s Day offers a great reminder to express your love and to show your appreciation outwardly.
If you feel stuck in a relationship rut, Valentine’s Day can serve as the beginning of a new “love-and-appreciation” campaign that last not just for 24 hours but all year long—in fact, all relationship long. Instead of making February 14th a Hallmark holiday—one that only involves the purchasing of a card and a gift—make it the first day you commit to revving up the romance in your life and showing the one you love how you really feel.
5 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Meaningfully
If you would like to feel like it’s Valentine’s Day every day…or, at least, more often than once a year…and would like to celebrate it in a personally meaningful way, here are five things you can do—or not do—to increase the romance, feeling, and meaning in your relationship:
1. Don’t Go to the Hallmark Store
On Valentine’s Day, or on any occasion or holiday when you want to give your partner a card or gift, bypass the Hallmark and candy displays and instead head to the stationary aisle in the store. Purchase special paper and a special pen. Then go home and write a love poem or a letter that says how you feel about your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, or partner. Put this on a pillow to find and read before getting into bed, on the bathroom mirror to come across in the morning, or on a plate to read before dinner. You can hide a love note in a briefcase or a suitcase. There are lots of places to place love notes so they surprise the recipient, who always will be pleasantly surprised to find it and will feel especially loved and appreciated.
2. Don’t Make Restaurant Reservations
Instead of sitting in some crowded restaurant—they are always overcommitted with reservations on Valentine’s Day, this year have a Valentine’s Day meal at home. It doesn’t even have to be more than a pizza or some take-out Chinese. Just create a special atmosphere for the dinner with soft music and light candles. Set the table with a white tablecloth and your best dishes. Put rose petals around the room or on the table. Place pictures of the two of you nearby so you can recount the wonderful times you’ve had together. You don’t have to wait for Valentine’s Day to do this. Dine in this manner at least once a month to revive your relationship, or make one night of the week your romantic dinner night.
3. Don’t Buy Gifts
Instead of giving your significant other chocolates or gifts, give an enormous serving of gratitude and appreciation. Take time to shower the other person verbally with all the wonderful things you love about him. Express your gratitude for her special traits or characteristics. Describe the behaviors you love. Or, if you feel uncomfortable saying these things aloud, make a list of them and present them in a beautiful box wrapped up like a gift. If you feel comfortable, seat yourselves opposite each other, hold hands, and gaze into each other’s eyes while taking turns saying, “Something I appreciate about you is…” and filling in the blank.
4. Don’t Bother with a Hotel Room
If you are looking for romance, create a romantic space. It’s easy, especially after the initial glow of a relationship has faded, to forget how nice it is to feel wooed. Go to the trouble of lighting candles, playing soft music, making sure the kids are in bed and asleep, and using aromatherapy oils or fragrant flowers to scent the room. Even if your relationship is new or still in the exciting early stage, this effort will go a long way toward making your significant other feel special, appreciated, and desired.
5. Don’t Wait Until February 14.
Last, and maybe most important, commit to celebrating Valentine’s Day more than once a year. Plan to have a night or day for romance, love, and appreciation at least once a month. It’s easy to get too busy to remember to show your partner how you feel or to plan a special evening together. And the best gift of all might simply be your undivided attention and listening ear.
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