After decades of marriage, I can predict what my husband will get me this Valentine’s Day. It is the same every year. He writes a cute saying on a blank card, and places it next to a small box of artisanal chocolate for me to find on my placemat at breakfast. I don’t want or expect more than this.
My husband can also guess with certainty how Valentine’s Day will unfold. He knows I will select a card carefully and compose an “inside” message or joke that only he could understand. Sometimes I buy chocolate too, but often I don’t.
I like Valentine’s Day. It’s a simple affair in my relationship, and reflects the overall tone of our marriage. Quiet. Predictable. Intimate. There are no fireworks on this day. My husband has never booked a table at a fancy bistro, given me a huge bouquet of over-priced roses, or proffered any other grand gestures of love. Just a simple card and a small decadent treat.
It would be off-putting to me if my husband made too big a deal about Valentine’s Day. The average consumer spends well over $100 on this day, which seems somewhat extravagant for a mass celebration of love. But at the same time, I would be hurt if he ignored it completely—as would most women.
According to a recent survey, over 50% of women say they would end their relationship if they didn’t get something for Valentine’s Day. While that seems somewhat dramatic, it does speak to our need to be recognized by our partners on February 14th.
So then, how can you provide meaningful recognition to your partner on this day?
It’s easy. You “show” and “tell.”
Show. Actions speak louder than words. What little thing can you do to “show” your partner that you recognize the effort they put into your relationship? Is there an action you can take to make their day a little sweeter, perhaps one that involves a personal sacrifice? How about taking on something on their side of the domestic ledger (that you normally don’t do, and perhaps are not skilled at)—whether that is making breakfast, mowing the lawn, or getting the kids dressed for school. Telling your partner, “I got this” shows them how much you recognize and appreciate the work they do.
Tell. It is too easy to pick a generic card from the hundreds of paper and digital options but a message that is written from your heart will matter more. Put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) to write a personal message, poem, or song that only you could write and tells your partner why they are so special. Perhaps you can mention a highlight of your year together, and what you hope for the year ahead. It doesn’t have to be perfectly composed or grammatically correct. The only thing that matters is that it is personal, thoughtful, and recognizes your partner for who they really are.
Valentine’s Day is one of those special occasions that gives couples the opportunity to do something extra special. Not unlike birthdays or anniversaries, Valentine’s Day provides another “excuse” to warm our partner’s heart like a melted fondue of chocolate kisses. This Valentine’s Day “show” them and “tell” them how much they mean to you.