I think it’s a nice idea to have one day a year honoring the place of romance in our lives. In that sense, Valentine’s Day is like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day: a day to pause, reflect, and appreciate special people and special relationships.
I actually enjoyed Valentine’s Day. Yes, it was over-hyped. Yes, it created anxiety and resentment for some men and women. Yes, it has become yet another occasion for obligatory gift-giving and excess spending.
Nevertheless, I think it’s a nice idea to have one day a year to honor the place of romance in our lives. In that sense, Valentine’s Day is like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day; a day to pause, reflect, and appreciate special people and special relationships.
Of course, you’re not honoring your mother in any meaningful sense if you take her out to a fancy restaurant on Mother’s Day and then ignore her the rest of the year. Similarly, whatever you did on Valentine’s Day is a hollow gesture if you don’t reinforce the message of love, day after day.
I say all the time that the key to achieving success in just about anything is “Little Things, Repeated Often.” If you can do two or three little things a day, the big things usually take care of themselves. You don’t lose weight by starving yourself for a week; you lose it by cutting one hundred calories here and there and making it a permanent practice. You don’t get in shape by trying to run 10 miles the first day but by starting slow and developing a routine that’s fun and manageable.
It’s the same with romance. One day a year, followed by 364 days of apathy, just doesn’t cut it. You’ve got to reinforce the message. You reinforce it in little ways.
What kind of ways? Well, if you’re a man, you can start by giving your wife or girlfriend compliments. Most women tend to be insecure about their appearance. Always reassure the woman in your life that she looks good to you. You don’t have to be an expert on women’s clothing or hairstyles to say, “Hey, that color looks great,” or “You should wear those jeans more often.”
A man should also remember that women love gifts. A gift doesn’t have to break the bank in order to have a romantic effect. If a man gets in the habit of picking up something for his wife or girlfriend whenever he finds himself in a store, he’s reinforcing the idea that she’s constantly on his mind. An unexpected 5 dollar bottle of bubble bath, and a few words about how she needs to relax more, can mean as much to a woman as a far-more-expensive gift on the “obligatory” occasions.
Women sometimes forget to inject romance into their daily lives. I realize that most women these days — particularly women with kids — are stretched to the limit. Romance can be the furthest thing from a woman’s mind when she’s rushing to pick up the kids at school in order to get to the post office before it closes. Yet, even the most understanding husband may feel neglected if his wife seems to have lost her romantic impulses, or seems to put everyone else’s needs before his.
The solution is to have some inviolable “us” time every evening. No kids, no TV, no emails or texts; just the two of you relaxing in each other’s company. Ten or fifteen minutes every night will do more for your love life than a once-a-year trip to Cancun, especially if you keep the conversation light and even flirtatious.
Once you start making room for a little romance in your daily routine, each day — as the old song says — will be Valentine’s Day. For both of you.
Jim is an experienced family law attorney. He is also an advice columnist, relationship writer and personal coach. Jim puts on workshops dealing with marriage, divorce and relationships. Jim writes for HopeAfterDivorce.org and FamilyShare.com