Valentine’s Day is no doubt a commercialized holiday. Couples sometimes feel pressured to buy expensive gifts and make fancy dinner plans with no desire to actually do so. However, this day can actually be therapeutic for couples. The day gives us a chance to reconnect and express our admiration for our partners. So often, we get settled into our routines and daily habits that we forget to nurture our relationships. Here are some tips on making the most of your Valentine’s Day:
- Express gratitude for your partner. Think about how fortunate you are to have this person in your life and tell him/her how you feel. What exactly is it about this person that makes your life better? What memorable experiences have you had with him/her? What does this person do you for everyday?
- Practice relationship mindfulness. We often think that mindfulness is an individual experience; however, mindfulness can be a powerful way to connect with your partner. Mindfulness is about focusing your attention in the present and being fully aware of your experience. When you are with your partner, try to be fully present and don’t let your mind drift off into to-do lists and text messaging. When your partner is speaking, listen with genuine interest and notice how you feel with this person. This is a great way to learn more about your relationship and yourself.
- Improve your communication skills. In addition to practicing mindfulness, expressing how you feel and actively listening to your partner are essential for any relationship to thrive. Learning how to effectively communicate involves identifying your own emotional experience. Of course, improving your communication skills takes time, but now is great time to start. Some key questions to ask yourself: What do you do when your partner does this? What do I think to myself about me? What do I think to myself about him/her? How do I react emotionally? What emotions does this bring up for me? How will my partner respond if I say this? How can I reach my partner in a genuine manner? How do I feel about being vulnerable with my partner?
- Ignite romance. This is not about buying your partner an expensive diamond ring (although that would be nice of you). Rather, think about small ways that you can express your love. Think about gestures that you can do on a daily basis to show your partner what he/she means to you. For example, you might cook a favorite dinner, place a love note in their purse, give a massage, send a random “I love you” text message, or make a playlist of your partner’s favorite music. These little behaviors can say a lot to the other person. Also, you might ask your partner what he/she considers romantic, as this can be a unique experience.
These are just some ways that you can reconnect with your partner on Valentine’s Day. Instead of focusing on material giving, think about giving the gift of reconnection.
If you are really struggling in your relationship, then you might need professional help. Marriage counseling (couple’s therapy) can be an effective therapy to improve your relationship. You will learn new ways of understanding and communicating with your partner. Although couples often enter marriage counseling when the relationship is in trouble, this therapy can be helpful for healthy relationship as well.