All right all you lovers, Valentine’s Day is less than a week away. Feeling the pressure?
What should be a simple holiday encouraging us to love one another has turned into a Big Deal, with sky-high expectations of chocolates, flowers, jewelry, romantic dinners in fancy restaurants, and the perfect partner with whom to share it all.
I’d like a reset, please.
On Friday, I’ll address the angst of facing a couples holiday in a state of singleness. Today is for those currently in a relationship.
With all the Valentine’s Day hype, I have to ask—how realistic are our expectations? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate and consider what it is we really want. Are chocolates and flowers our goal? Maybe, what we really desire is to be desired. To have our special someone say once again, “I love you.”
There are many ways to do that. (I listed some suggestions below.) One exercise that has really helped Pete and I communicate our love to one another is learning each other’s “love languages.” If you haven’t read one of Gary Chapman’s well-known books on this topic, I highly recommend you do so.
Here’s a quick summary: What says “I love you” to one person may be taken in a completely different way by another. Some people feel loved when they receive small gifts, while others need attention, or touch. Some appreciate tasks done while others will read and reread love notes. To effectively communicate our love to someone else, it helps to speak their “language.”
This concept can make your Valentine’s Day celebration much easier to plan. In my case, I especially value spending time with Pete. A couple of years ago we spent Valentine’s Day visiting the Butterfly Pavilion near Denver. The tropical atmosphere, blooming flowers (in February!) and brightly colored butterflies were lovely, but it was getting a whole day of Pete’s undivided attention that made it the best Valentine’s Day I’d ever had.
(Pete’s love languages are different from mine, and you can be sure I paid attention to his as well. )
I’d also like to remind you that Valentine’s Day can be a very difficult day for many people. Don’t get so wrapped up in your togetherness that you fail to include others who need your affection. Single parents, widows and others who have lost their loved ones, as well as those who long for a relationship but remain single in spite of their desires, need extra support and encouragement on holidays. This is an awesome chance to be “Jesus with skin on” to those around you.
With that in mind, here’s my list of suggestions for fun ways to celebrate the holiday of romantic love. Some of these are aimed at married couples, while others are appropriate for anyone. Hopefully, this will inspire you to plan a day just right for you. And by the way, none of these ideas need to involve flowers, chocolate, jewelry, or fancy restaurants.
- Write love letters to one another. Give specific examples why you love the other person.
- Make breakfast in bed for your spouse. How about using heart-shaped forms to make the fried eggs or pancakes?
- Pray out loud for one another. Thank God for your relationship and rededicate it to Him.
- Offer to babysit for a single parent so they can get a break. You can celebrate on another day.
- Set up a blanket on the floor, add a space heater, some Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffet, or an environments ocean CD, put on your bathing suits, and pretend you’re at the beach. Serve up some drinks with little umbrellas. You won’t even need sunscreen.
- Take communion together.
- Get some construction paper, glue and glitter. Make one another valentines like you did in elementary school. Make an extra one for someone else. Bonus points for delivering it to them in person.
- Read the Song of Solomon to one another, taking turns reading the various parts.
- Fondue is a romantic dinner you can do at home. Remember to kiss one another each time you lose a piece of bread in the cheese.
- Write a love poem or song to your sweetie. If you’re talented, sing it to them.
- Put on some music, turn down the lights, and dance around the living room and (as the song says) down the hall, up the stairs…
- If you still have them, read your old letters (or emails) to one another. I’m thankful that we couldn’t afford the long distance phone charges (back in the 70s) and had to write actual letters on paper.
- Play a game for two.
- Bring your best tablecloth and place settings to your favorite fast food restaurant. Dine in style. Don’t forget the music and candles.
- If you’re married, renew your wedding vows, just the two of you. Set the stage with some candles and music.