'Tis the month for celebrating love. It's something we all crave yet can sometimes be put on the back burner. However, cultivating healthy relationships requires regular attention, and Valentine's Day is an excellent time to jump-start these intentions. So, we've gathered some ideas for a romantic celebration, as well as ways for couples to nurture their love, not just on cupid's day, but every day.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
The History of Valentine's Day
Today, Valentine's Day centers around candy, flowers, gifts, romantic dinners, and greeting cards, but the origins of Valentine's Day are full of legend and bizarre traditions. It is thought that the holiday originated from the ancient pagan festival, Lupercalia, held in Rome each year on February 15. The festival was intended to enable or facilitate fertility. But trust me, you wouldn’t want to plan your Valentine’s Day with these archaic rituals of sacrifice. Marriage is hard enough without requiring more sacrifice. So enough about history!
Romantic Ideas for Celebrating Love
Fertility rituals aside, it's important to celebrate the bond you share with your partner. Keeping romance alive isn't tricky, but it takes commitment to the effort. Like a meditation or yoga practice, the benefits build up when you do it regularly. It can be challenging to find new ways to show your partner you care, but celebrations don't have to be large and expensive; there are numerous ways to show gratitude for your relationship.
Surprise Each Other.
Sometimes a minor thing can make a big difference. For example, random love notes when you wake up are a tender way to start the day. An invitation to take a walk or do something your partner enjoys is an excellent way to find time to connect. And, when you are doing something out of the ordinary, you're more likely to be fully present.
Don't get me wrong, dining out is excellent, especially when it's something you do on special occasions, but dining in can be incredibly romantic. Yes, there is always the option to set the table with all your finery and enjoy a special dinner. But breakfast in bed or a special candle-lit lunch at home during the workweek can be just as special, especially with the intention of nurturing a loving partnership.
Enjoy a staycation.
You don't have to go far to find romantic ways to spend time together. Sleep in, go out to brunch, then take in a matinee or go for a hike. Look for activities in your area that you would recommend to visitors but might not do yourself, such as visiting museums or browsing the retail shops. Adopting the mindset of becoming a tourist in your hometown can bring your curiosity to the forefront again.
Ways to Nurture Your Relationship
While celebrating love is essential, it's also necessary for couples to continuously nurture their relationship. These acts can be effortless, but they do require mindfulness.
Make the time.
Don't just focus on holidays to do something special, and conversely, if family or work commitments get in the way of holidays, celebrate them on a different day. The important thing is to spend time together, undisturbed. When I first had my son, a friend advised me to schedule a regular date night. Once I saw how much time a newborn takes, I understood the advice! I know one couple who woke up at 4:00 am every day when their children were little because that was their only time alone together. They grew to enjoy this time so much that the ritual remained long after their kids had left the house.
Figure out one another's love language.
An approach that relies on the theory that everyone has a predisposition to, and identifies heavily with one of five ways to spread and receive love is called our love language. Using your partner's love language improves communication, enhances appreciation, increases connection, and prevents problems. For example, recently, my husband and I had a dispute, and he very specifically said to me, "I don't want to snuggle," which caused me much distress since touch is my love language. That night, he told me that he realized a moment to cuddle, even though he didn't feel like it, could have changed the trajectory of the whole conversation.
Relevant Reading: Why Knowing Your Partner's Love Language Can Strengthen Your Bond
Break out of routine.
When relationships are new, one of the great joys is that everything feels fresh and exciting. While settling into familiarity and routine brings with it a deeper level of comfort and commitment, you can still cultivate intrigue by doing things out of the ordinary. This doesn't mean you always need to be spontaneous; if the timing is an issue, go ahead and plan; just make sure the plan isn't your everyday routine. This can be as simple as going out for coffee occasionally instead of making it at home. Intentionally giving one another attention can be a powerful aphrodisiac!
Recognize the importance of change.
I love this quote, "The secret to a good marriage is falling in love with the same person over and over again." As humans, we are wired to grow and change, which means neither person will be the same as when you fell in love. Embracing this concept allows you to open your heart to the new parts of each of you, which can be incredibly exciting!
Related Reading: "The Best Marriage Advice: An Intentional Marriage Is a Happy Marriage."
Be mindful of practicing bonding behaviors. Several powerful bonding behaviors for couples don't require more than a soft gesture. Using loving and encouraging words without being solicited or overlooking your partner’s thoughtless word or action can be very much appreciated. Intentionally smiling and making eye contact when you see each other is heartwarming. Doing a favor without being asked or simply being a good listener goes a long way to nurturing the relationship. And finally, showing affection, whether that is a light touch when passing or sending them off for the day with a good-bye kiss, can bring those butterflies back.
While these are all tactics to celebrate and nurture your relationship, the keys to a successful relationship include practicing kindness regularly, giving voluntarily, being genuine, and creating openness and safety.
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