Ah, Valentine's Day…what comes to mind when you think of a happy Valentine's Day? Is it boxes of chocolate, beautiful cards, long stemmed roses, and kissing until you drift off into some sunset with waves crashing in the background? While these are all nice, I'm afraid this advertisement and marketing perspective of the holiday (created by industries that profit in the billions) make ordinary couples feel like they are either not doing it right, or don't have a love relationship that is special. And it makes couples who are experiencing hard times feel even worse. Here are a few tips to make the day happier:
Think of what the day means to you. If it's a day of love, there is much you can do to give to others to deflect the focus on you. Give a teacher a card, give a donation to the heart association, address a card/care package to the military, send balloons to a good friend, or have chocolates on your desk. As always, giving to others creates an internal sense of wellbeing and elevated mood that automatically makes your day a happier one.
Resist the temptation of using this day as test of how much your partner cares. So many people get disappointed because what they thought were gestures of love didn't happen from their partner on Valentine's Day. Value is generally not determined by one point in time, and the same goes for value in relationships. So if it's not your favorite restaurant or if your partner did not remember your favorite flower or candy, do not take that alone as a sign that the relationship is doomed. Look to the big picture to assess the quality of your relationship.
Use the day to introduce new traditions which will build the relationship. Rather than sit back and wonder why romantic things are not happening, get up and create romantic gestures on your own! A silly note, a romantic text, and a surprise massage go a long way in creating the romance you crave.
Communicate openly about what you would like. Although this seems like a no-brainer, you would be amazed at how many people expect their partner to read their mind and know what they want or need to feel special. I can't tell you how many times I hear people say "He/she should know" or "Wouldn't you think after 15 years of a relationship __________". Everyone defines romance differently, so assertively share what defines romance for you ahead of time.
Enjoy shared experiences which excite you both. Shared experiences go a long way in bolstering relationships. That could be a reasonable dinner at a meaningful place or going to a museum or play which you both enjoy. Or, maybe it's a glass of wine after putting the kids to bed. Remember the point is to be together, because time spent on each other is a valuable gift in and of itself.
Keep your perspective. What is the real meaning of your relationship to you? If it's about those thousands of wonderful moments which happen all the other days, then Valentine's Day is a very small fraction of what it means to be in a happy relationship.
So how do you survive this day of love when you are in a relationship and you both feel anything but connected and loving? Of course, this happens and when it does, it is best to make the best of the day, knowing the 15th will be here soon. Do not peruse dating websites, contact old flames, or do anything to undermine the relationship! Rather, have a candid discussion with your partner about the need for a reboot relationship weekend or long-term couples counseling, and then book it. These things generally do not get better on their own and the next Valentine's Day will be here before you know it!