Every year, Valentine’s Day seems to sneak up; yet, Valentine’s Day is thrown in our faces 24/7 for nearly two months leading up to it. Despite the chocolates, stuffed bears, and roses in stores the day after New Year’s, it isn’t until the frigid second month of the year that many of us realize that we should’ve planned something special for our valentine. This might be when panic sets in, last minute plans fall through, and arguments ensue. 

What if I told you that Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to suck? 

Mind you, I know that the loving holiday is kind of a sham. Valentine’s Day is an expensive holiday promoted by the chocolate companies and champagne houses to scam those who are madly in love—or those who are madly desperate to find a last-minute reservation or gift. So, let’s make Valentine’s Day less of an ordeal in order to make it more meaningful. Paradoxical, but stick with me.

One: Celebrate because you want to celebrate

The first step to making Valentine’s Day special is to celebrate it because you want to spend this time with your partner. Don’t celebrate the holiday because you feel obligated. Nobody wants to be on a date because they felt like they had to be, and nobody wants to be on a date with somebody who doesn’t want to be there. At that point, it is a waste of both of your time. Make it intentional because you want it to be, because you want to spend time with your partner. 

Two: Consider what both you and your partner enjoy

If you don’t find pleasure in going to a fancy restaurant, why do it just for Valentine’s Day? Go bowling or to a bookstore or to a cooking class instead. Get Taco Bell, drive to an empty lot, and watch videos on your phone together. Buy grocery store sushi, rent a movie from Redbox, set up an air mattress in the living room and have an at-home movie night. Find what feels comfortable, fulfilling, and reciprocal for you both and embrace that. 

If you do want to go out for the holiday, discuss what is most important. Maybe it doesn’t matter to either of you if you go out on the 14th or another day that week. Save a few bucks and a lot of wait time by going out a few days before or after instead. If you and your partner don’t want to get dressed up, choose an activity that is casual.

Three: Compromise when preferences and expectations differ

Admittedly, preferences and expectations can differ sometimes. Make sure to communicate these desires in advance so you can reach a compromise. Maybe you want to go out and your partner wants to stay in. Try going out to dinner at your partner’s favorite restaurant before going home for a movie night, where you pick the movie. Each activity can reflect each of your preferences.

Four: Consider how your partner loves to be loved

Consider how your partner loves to be loved. Maybe they like to be surprised at work with a bouquet of flowers. Maybe they feel loved when you unload and reload the dishwasher without needing to be asked. They might prefer to have their head scratched and hair played with. Some feel valued when they find a love note stuck to the mirror. And others just want you to set aside time each day to give them your undivided attention. 

Sound familiar? These are examples of the five love languages and knowing your partner’s preferred love language can deepen your relationship and strengthen your bond. If you’re unsure what your partner’s love language is, open that conversation and facilitate a better understanding and deeper connection with them. Use this opportunity to voice your needs and desires, too, so they know how you prefer to be loved.

Five: Don’t wait for (or stop at) February 14th

Valentine’s Day should not be about celebrating February 14th. Rather, it should be about spending intentional time with your partner. And for healthy relationships, cherishing your time with your partner is not exclusive to Valentine’s Day or any other special occasion for that matter. 

In the words of relationship expert Dr. John Gottman, “successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts.” Small things often1 can have a greater impact than one extravagant gesture once a year. Show up for your partner for a date night each month. Show up to support your partner when they have a tough day at work. Swing by the grocery store to grab a few ingredients to make them their favorite dinner. Leave your phone in the kitchen while you watch a movie together. What is important to remember, though, is knowing what is meaningful to your partner. Don’t show up just for Valentine’s Day; show up often.

Join us for our upcoming free workshop series!

And remember, the best way to tell your partner you love them is to consistently work towards strengthening your relationship together. One way to do so is to educate yourself, self-reflect, and learn important relationship skills. Consider attending one, two, or all three workshops in Untethered Therapy’s upcoming Couples Workshop Series to take your relationship to the next level.

Workshop topics, in order, are as follows: 

Being Intentional and Present in Your Relationship on Saturday, February 11th from 12pm-2pm
Reigniting Lost Desire on Saturday, March 18th from 12pm-2pm
Effective Communication and Conflict Management on Saturday, April 22st from 12pm-2pm 

Register today for one or all of the sessions – or contact info@untetheredtherapy.org with any questions!


(1) Small Things Often is a podcast produced by The Gottman Institute that offers bite-sized advice on improving your relationship through small acts of love.