While some take delight in it as the most romantic day of the year, others could be forgiven for thinking the day has become a forced celebration of consumerism. Here’s how you can use Valentine’s Day as a meaningful reminder to check in on your relationship.
Some couples get great pleasure from celebrating their love on Valentine’s Day with an intimate exchange of cards, flowers, chocolates and even jewellery. Other couples see it as just another day and prefer to celebrate their love in more spontaneous, possibly less expensive ways throughout the year.
But it’s hard to escape the FOMO that accompanies the marketing for Valentine’s Day and tells you that if you really care about your loved one, you buy them gifts. It can also make those who are spending Valentine’s Day dealing with grief or loneliness feel even more excluded and alone.
So how do we step back from the commercialisation of the day and reclaim it as a more meaningful and genuine celebration of love?
Are you and your partner on the same page?
As with all celebrations, Valentine’s Day comes with high expectations and the potential for disappointment. Do you and your partner share the same view of Valentine’s Day? It is important to recognise they may not feel the same way as you.
Beware the marketing pressures that tempt you to think that if your partner doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day then they don’t really care about you. Comparisons with what others might be doing on the day never helps either. But if your partner is not good at expressing their love at any other time, Valentine’s Day may highlight a significant lack in your relationship that needs attention.
How to give back meaning to Valentine’s without breaking the bank
- Make a hand-made card and tell your partner all the things you appreciate about them and how much you value the relationship you share.
- Little moments where you affirm your love count more than any grand gestures. Imbue your gift with meaning by holding hands, touching, a kiss, loving eye contact and being present.
- Small, thoughtful actions go a long way. They can be as unromantic as buying that tube of toothpaste from the chemist that your partner keeps forgetting, to show that you are thinking of them. Send them a loving text message when you’re in the same room or sing them your favourite silly love song.
- Share a simple meal out, pack a picnic or prepare a favourite meal together at home with candlelight.
- A weekend away or a day trip to a beautiful location is a great way to enjoy some quality, meaningful time together.
- Make a genuine effort to have some intimate time together just the two of you, even if it’s only for an hour or so. Turn off the computer, phone and TV, and push work pressures aside.
- Instead of expensive roses that wilt in no time, buy a plant for the garden or in a pot. Watch it grow together.
- Create and build romantic rituals you can share in a lasting way through the years.
- Plan adventures and make them happen, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone.
- Make a vow together to grow your relationship every day. Talk about how you can be the best partner for each other. While it’s often a challenge, make a commitment to let go of unnecessary resentment. Reduce reactivity, value forgiveness as a regular event, be kind, generous, respectful, learn how to listen to each other and explore shared goals and dreams while supporting each other’s individual goals and dreams.
Single on Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day has always carried a certain sadness for those of us who are single. However, it’s worth noting that in some cultures Valentine’s Day is not all about romance, and instead can be a time to let those closest to you know how much you appreciate and love them.
It’s ok to feel and embrace any negative emotions you may be experiencing on a day like Valentine’s Day. But if you’re looking for ways to feel a little less lonely, why not reach out to others and let them know how much you value their friendship?
Valentine’s Day as a trigger
If Valentine’s Day does shine a light on some painful lacks in your relationship it may be time to give these concerns some attention. This may be something you can agree to focus on together through prioritising each other and investing time together.
However, if Valentine’s Day highlights some stuck points or difficulty navigating change, then professional assistance with a well-trained couples counsellor can be hugely beneficial.
Relationships Australia NSW offers both individual and couples counselling for a range of issues. This article was originally written for Body & Soul.