5 Steps to a Better Valentine's Day
Laying the groundwork for a loving, romantic and intimate Valentine’s Day
Posted Feb 01, 2016
Many couples look forward to Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to rekindle romance and renew their love and lovemaking; or, more simply, to enjoy a day set aside for reminding each other how much they love being together. For other couples, however, Valentine’s Day is loaded with pressure—pressure to do and say exactly the right things; as well to avoid disappointment and feelings of failure if “the big day” doesn’t “deliver” by overcoming feelings of disconnection or other relationship issues, acknowledged or unacknowledged.
Statistics tell the story: our Valentine’s Day spending averages $13.29 million on 180 million cards and 198 million roses, dinner, tickets, gifts and other sundry items. Women buy most of the cards, while men buy most of the roses. And the importance that many people attach to the day seems not to be negligible: a whopping 53% of women say they would end their relationship if their partner didn’t remember Valentine’s Day; though, on the flip side, statistics indicate that approximately 11,000 children are conceived on Valentine’s Day.
The Valentine’s Day hype makes it easy for us to forget that every day is an opportunity for couples to build intimacy and rediscover romance.
Scoffers may be skeptical about the apparent arbitrariness of setting aside a particular day for romance. But like a lot of holidays, this one is loaded with both history and legend: St Valentine was commemorated as an early Christian bishop who refused to go along with the Roman Emperor’s ban on marriage, which was intended to prevent imperial military forces from losing eligible young men to the lure of love. Going back even further, the wintertime pagan Roman observance of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration, hearkens to the legend of the founding of Rome itself by Romulus and Remus, who had been nurtured and suckled by a female wolf (“lupa”). The theme of fertility is reinforced by annual rites honoring Faunus, the god of agriculture, in mid-February.
In anticipation of this important day, then, we advise peremptory preparation for the Ides (“middle-days”) of February, so that when the day of thoughtful card-and-gift-giving arrives, groundwork is already in place for the celebration of mutual caring and intimacy.
Here are a few ideas to consider that might make Valentine’s Day more special when it comes:
- Instead of frontloading Valentine’s Day with pressure to perform, start a conversation about your feelings for each other before the day comes. Take up—or renew—small gestures that show caring, and begin talking about what you’d like to do together to show its specialness to yourself and to each other. At the same time, avoid over-planning or over-analysis: surprise can be exciting and very romantic
- As much as possible, carefully plan the logistics for the day to minimize the risk of mishaps owing to poorly managed work responsibilities or to assuming you’ll be able to get a good table at that special restaurant without a reservation. And having a Plan B up your sleeve, just in case, is never a bad idea!
- Talk together on Valentine’s Day about how you’d like to make “set-aside” time for one another a regular part of the rhythm of your life together, rather than something your calendar has to remind you to do. It may take some juggling and a few false starts, but once in place, the expectation of that time can go a long way toward building intimacy.
- If this is your first Valentine’s Day together, have a frank conversation in advance if the day brings up uncomfortable or even disastrous experiences from past relationships. Mutual sharing of this type won’t necessarily neutralize unhappy memories and feelings, but doing so will improve your chances of creating your own happily memorable time together.
- Making your partner feel obligated to live up to stellar past Valentine’s Days is an unhelpful and unfair burden for anyone. Instead, be open to what the two of you can build together in the here-and-now, but be willing to let each other off the hook if things don’t go as hoped. Remember that every experience can be a building block of a happier life together, no matter how well it did or didn’t turn out.
So—go and start your Valentine’s Day conversation today, and stay open to whatever might happen!
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