Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and many couples will begin the conversation about how will they celebrate this year, (or at least every couples therapist will tell you they should). There are many things couples’ tell themselves about why they can’t celebrate Valentine’s Day: life is just too busy, they are too busy preparing for Valentine’s Day festivities for their child’s school, they would rather have family time, It falls on a bad day,Valentine’s Day is a marketing ploy, it doesn’t feel authentic or natural to show love your partner because a holiday is telling you to, Valentine’s Day is too cheesy, etc. For many parents it is easy to let your relationship fall low on the priorities list, but if there’s any day to make your relationship primary, it is Valentine’s Day. Continue reading to find out why.
February is great timing in terms of redirecting your focus and energy back on to your relationship. The busyness and focus of the holiday season is over. The shopping, events, etc. tend to calm down by February, but it’s still early enough in the new year to view this as an opportunity for a relationship renewal, and reboot the reboot relationship. It can remind you of why you fell in love and decided to have a family together in the first place. So use this contrived holiday, Valentine’s Day as the jumping off point to re-prioritize your relationship with your partner.
Celebrating Valentine’s day is a way to stay mindful of your primary relationship. Despite all of the distractions, stressors, and complications of being parents, celebrating this holiday reminds us that we still share intimacy and connection with our partner. Ideally you and your partner will enjoy the time you had together celebrating Valentine’s Day, reminding the both of you how important (and fun) it is to take time to be intimate and connect again. Have you ever had those moments where you and your partner end up having sex out of the blue after a long rut, or find yourself at your old go-to restaurant, and at the end you both say to yourselves, “That was great, that was so nice to do that again, why don’t do that anymore? We need to do this more often!” Ideally, celebrating Valentine’s Day will be one of those moments.
Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to show the meaning of actions. While it can be, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about what or how much you buy for your partner. That is entirely up to you and your partner, and what the day means to the two of you. Valentine’s Day can also be about actions instead of items. What are some ways you can show your partner you love them? Making them their favorite dinner, arranging to watch their favorite movie with them, just making the simple effort to remove all of your regular distractions in order to focus on your partner. For those who are not about one or the other, there’s also fun and creative ways to merge gifts and spending quality time together: professional couples’ massage, wine tasting, attending a concert or play, spa day together, treat the other to a mini shopping spree while you both enjoy each other’s company. Just treating the other person to a spa day won’t cut it. The point of celebrating days like Valentine’s Day is to spend time as a couple, to prioritizing each other over all of the other chaos of the outside world, and to build memories together.
Similar to your birthday, wedding anniversary, or Christmas, the reminder to reconnect and celebrate love is already scheduled for you. Unlike your anniversary, or your partner’s birthday, there is no way you can forget about Valentine’s Day. Retailers and the media won’t allow it. Everywhere you turn (television, restaurant deals, the grocery store, magazines, etc) from the end of January until February 15 you are constantly reminded of Valentine’s Day. This day is a sure thing in terms of remembering and following through on celebrating. This is your chance to take the opportunity for intentional time to be together. Some may look at the month of February and the focus on Valentine’s day as a sham, and as added pressure to give in and celebrate love in ways they normally would not. However, another way to look at this time of the year is as an opportunity. February and Valentine’s day makes it easier than ever to celebrate your partner. Every grocery store, pharmacy, etc. is decked out in pink and red, providing flowers, heartfelt cards, selling magazines full of ideas. Most restaurants and hotels in every city have Valentine’s Day packages, ready and willing to make celebrating Valentine’s Day easy and romantic. It’s practically served to you on a silver platter. When there’s an option for celebrating everywhere you turn, what excuse do you have to not take the opportunity and do one thing to prioritize your relationship and celebrate your spouse? If you don’t do it today, then when?
This is a great model for your kids, and positive messages about love and relationship that they will have stored for years. Your kids see everything. Yes, depending on their ages and personalities it may be guilt producing for you to leave your kid(s) so you can selfishly go off and have fun without them. That’s okay. In this moment they are witnessing the importance of nurturing yourself, as well as nurturing your relationship. This is an invaluable message. It’s similar to the positive messages they also pick up about seeing their parents balance family and work. They learn that life is a balancing act, and it requires constant, rotating energy. Your relationship is simply another area that requires energy. By you and your partner taking that time to be together, you will return home refreshed, reconnected, happy, and in turn more able to be present and joyful when spending time with the family as a whole. Kids love to witness love, just as much as they love receiving it. Kids go through phases of wanting to see their parents kiss (and sometimes NOT wanting to see them kiss), they enjoy helping mom get pretty for her date, they like helping dad pick out a gift for mom. These are all great opportunities for your relationship and your family.
For those of you who claim Valentine’s Day is too cheesy, or it’s full of pressure, or feels awkward or too contrived. Intimacy after having children is often all of those things: full of pressure, awkward and feels contrived. That’s just the reality of trying to reclaim intimacy and finding your balance as a partner and a parent. How many times of you embraced a cheesy song or activity for the sake of your child’s happiness? Most of what we do with our kids is pretty cheesy, but we often don’t care because we’re focused on how much joy it brings to our child. If the cheesiness of Valentine’s Day brings joy to your partner, why should this be any different? The more you let your guard down and just embrace days like Valentine’s Day, the less cheesy and awkward, and complicated it will be.
Use this upcoming Valentine’s Day to change your script. Start today by telling yourself that this year you plan to embrace Valentine’s Day by first talking to your partner about how he/she would like to celebrate this year, and how to make that happen. For those of you who want to go out, but not be forced to pay the higher prices, or have scheduling conflicts, celebrating Valentine’s Day one day late or early is always an option. Happy connecting, and happy Valentine’s Day!
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