In a conversation with a 20-something friend of mine, the topic of Valentine’s Day came up. Her sentiments closely resembled those of many of the young people I talk to—Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday, NBD (no big deal). I mentioned that while you’re dating it probably doesn’t seem very different from any other date, because, well, you’re dating. Sure, the restaurant might have linen instead of paper napkins, but dining-out alone is routine at that stage of your relationship. I agreed with her that it was certainly not a necessary holiday for the dating world; if anything it creates more anxiety as pressure builds to have a relationship defining moment.
For those who have been married for a while, Valentine’s Day can be the reminder we sometimes need to focus some romantic attention on our spouse. The cares of life, demands of parenting, career, or financial pressures often crowd out romantic rendezvous, pushing it to the back burner for too long. Keeping love alive requires intentionality, Hallmark or not, this particular holiday just makes it easier as specialty chocolate and novelties abound. Even still, some just hate it because of the pressure or disappointment when it does not live-up to the commercial hype. We would do well to let it be a reminder and not a mandate.
I like the perspective of my friend who gets a heart-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy’s and makes a Valentine goodie bag. It is fun day celebrating love. She says, “Just like I celebrate Christ daily but Christmas is still full of special traditions.” Of course, you wouldn’t try to make up for an entire year of romantic neglect in just one day—this is one day you get to kick it up a notch from the ordinary. The point is, don’t let comparison or unrealistic expectations ruin an opportunity to express love to those you love, romantic or not.
If you’ve never read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, now is a great time to check it out. Having insight about what makes others feel loved can really help take the guesswork out of what to do on a special day, or any day! Knowing whether it is words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, or physical touch that really speaks to the heart of those we love can make a real difference.
Our “Chef’s Table”
This year, we will choose a special meal to cook together like we did last year (read about that here). To make it a little different, I like the idea of setting up a chef’s table—fun, intimate, casual. It doesn’t have to be in the kitchen if there’s no space for it, any special setting will work, even a tablecloth on the floor for a picnic in the living room.
Candles, linen, flowers, candies, wine glasses filled with whatever you like to drink, a simple splash of color or a few heart-shaped chocolates communicate what you have together is special and worth celebrating. Borrow a few items from friends or even let the kids make decorations (they love helping mommy and daddy do special things), simplicity is a beautiful thing. Reluctant Entertainer has more great ideas in a recent post, Six Steps to Setting a Classy Valentine’s Table Using What You Have!
A few ways to slip in an extra “I love you” this Valentine’s Day:
A note specifically identifying something you love about them
A single flower in their car, on their pillow, with their lunch, etc.
A handwritten Valentine card
Preparing their favorite meal
Get out the linens, crystal, and china for dinner (or borrow them from a friend)
Choose a romantic line from a movie or book to text them
Choose a scripture from Song of Songs to text or email
Share a glass of wine together after dinner and just talk
Draw a bath to share
Read old, saved Valentine cards to each other
Buy some massage oil and make plans to use it
Spread out a blanket in front of the fireplace for dinner or dessert
Light candles in the bedroom and place chocolates on your pillows
Pray blessing over them throughout the day and tell them so
Leave a love note where you know they will find it
[Please feel free to leave additional ideas as a comment. -Thanks!]
One final thought. If you have children (young or older), there is no greater gift you can give them than to set an example of expressing love toward each other. It is so good for them to see you treat each other special and treat your marriage relationship like the treasure that it is.