Brad and I aren’t big celebrators of Valentine’s Day. It’s a holiday that typically focuses on a lot of purchases and excessive consumption. Our typical Valentine’s Day is nice, quiet dinner that we cook together at the house. Other than that we don’t do anything particularly special on this day. But do we celebrate our love and show each other how much we care about each other? Sure we do. We are intentional to do that every day. So when Valentine’s Day rolls around, we don’t feel the need to rush out and buy a bunch of things, make a big deal about it and stress out about because we’ve spent the prior year already showing our love for each other. Here’s our top five ways how we love each other February 15-February 13:
- We communicate with each other and give each other our undivided attention. Brad and I talk. A lot. We enjoy knowing what’s going on in each other’s lives as well as we enjoy planning and dreaming with each other. Our Pastor and his wife teach a pre-marital class at our church where we serve as pre-marital mentors. They suggest a Daily Diverge (making sure you take time each day to communicate what’s happening with your day), a Weekly Withdrawal (where your conversation is going deeper than just what’s going on in your life) and an Annual Abandon (getting away from ‘life’ (work/kids/your own house preferably) and spending time with each other in an outside environment and planning and dreaming about your future together). All of these take time and should be environments where it’s just the two of you giving each other your undivided attention (see our last blog post on Reclaiming Conversation on how to best do this). You must be intentional about creating this time and environment. It’s totally worth it to invest in your relationship and your marriage with solid communication. We avoid so many conflicts because we have talked things out and aren’t misunderstood with each other. We also show each other how much we care because we are truly interested in what the other person has to say. We’ve grown closer together as we take the time to share and even plan out our dreams together. See how we do our yearly planning retreat in our blog post The Lost Art of Planning.
- We always ask “Is this action respectful to my spouse?” We avoid so many conflicts and fights because we take the time to stop and ask this question before we do something. This extends to finances (Is buying this car/boat/electronic/toy without consulting by spouse respectful to him/her and the budget we agreed upon?), relationships (Is connecting with my former high school boy/girlfriend on Facebook or ‘just having coffee’ with a person of the opposite sex respectful to my spouse?) and hobbies (Is spending this much time doing this hobby and being away respectful to my spouse?). Respect is the most important thing you can have in marriage. If all of your actions are a result of making sure you are doing things that are respectful to your spouse, you can get through a lot of the other hard stuff that life can bring. Respect builds a marriage up because you become a team, working as a cohesive unit, always wanting what is best for each other and you are both then ready to face together the difficulties that life can throw at you.
- We go to bed at the same time. Try to get on the same schedule as your spouse even if this means an adjustment of what you normally do. Remember marriage is about compromise. There is nothing we enjoy more than going to bed and waking up with each other. It gives us a chance to talk about our day one last time and discuss anything that needs to be discussed for tomorrow. And we also pray together, which is so valuable in a marriage. We would also highly recommend no TV in the bedroom and no electronics in bed. The bedroom is made for two things – sleeping and we’ll let you guess the other. Removing all other distractions provides an environment that is conducive to both of these things happening with regularity.
- Travel and be adventurous together. Time slows down when you travel. We can recall almost every moment (with a help of a travel journal) about past trips but can barely recall what last Monday was like. That’s because when you are in a new environment, time slows down and each moment is a new experience you can enjoy together. We have a goal to travel to one new place internationally each year. This was a goal we started after we had the money in our budget to do this. What we get to experience traveling together is worth the expense of time, money and energy that it takes to do it. Travel is not always easy for us. It can be tiring with jet lag, we might not speak the same language and the food is different. But the experiences we gain by exploring other cultures together will be memories we will cherish forever together. For us, traveling internationally is fun but there are many adventures we have together traveling domestically. Be intentional to create the time and finances to get away together and explore new things outside your daily routine.
- Laugh together. We truly enjoying laughing together and just having fun. It keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. We’ve learned if you act old, you will feel old and your marriage will grow old. But if you act young, laugh together, listen to music and do fun things, you’ll feel like newlyweds no matter how old you are. We also have created our own language in our marriage. We have so many words, phrases and inside jokes that we share together from different, often funny, experiences that we’ve had in life together. I seriously think if I were kidnapped and could get a message to Brad, it would be totally undecipherable by the kidnappers but, with the use of our secret language, I could point Brad in the right direction on how to save me.
Valentine’s Day comes once a year. It’s nice to pause and tell and show your partner how much they mean to you. But if this is the first time that person knows your feelings, you are doing something wrong. Don’t stress about the perfect gift and overspend on presents on Valentine’s Day. Instead be intentional the other 364 days of the year to show your loved one that they are your Valentine every day.