I am not sure if you are aware of this, but Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. And for millions of people, today is filled with chaotic shopping, last-minute phone calls ordering flowers, searching for that perfect card from depleted card racks, and searching for a restaurant that still has dinner reservation availability. For Kim and me, it will be a boring, mundane, and normal day. Why? We take Valentine’s Day off. It is a decision that we made over sixteen years ago. Why? I can’t remember the exact reason. Maybe I forgot one year. Maybe Kim realized that I spent less than 3.45 minutes picking out the card, choosing the flowers, and planning the date. Maybe we got tired of buying each other candy that immediately was shoved into the pantry to never be consumed. I really can’t remember the initial reason, but what I know is over the years our resolve not to celebrate it has only strengthened.
I almost stated that Valentine’s Day should be banned, but I found this article that lists the countries that have actually banned Valentine’s Day. Maybe banning it is too excessive.
So here are my top five reasons why I think you should skip, not ban, Valentine’s Day.
#1: Express your love daily
Valentine’s Day is the one day where you are obligated to verbally express your love for your spouse (or significant other). What about the other 364 days a year? I have interacted with numerous couples that do not express their feelings, both good and bad, to their spouse. I hear comments like, “Well she knows that I love her.” or “I didn’t grow up with a dad that expressed his feelings verbally.” Kim and I are constantly saying “I Love You” to each other. Daily – 365 days a year. But not only do we say those three powerful words, we include the reasons why.
#2: Write encouraging words consistently
Short statements of love and admiration will be attached to bouquets of flowers. Sappy Facebook posts, poems, and images will clog the internet. Hallmark sells over 144 million Valentine’s Day cards every year. I am all for this, but like #1, you should be writing words of encouragement to your spouse consistently. I do not think there is a day that goes by that I do not send a text to Kim, or she to me, with encouraging words. We make a deliberate effort to be specific in our words, building each other up and speaking life into each other. We do this privately and publicly. Plus, our kids benefit from seeing us speak this way to each other.
#3: Give gifts randomly
58 million pounds of chocolate will purchased this week. If you do some quick math, it comes to approx. 145,000,000,000 calories. I like chocolate, but I’m also a 40-year-old engaged in an all out war against my aging and slowing metabolism. Beyond the chocolate, flowers will be purchased and gifts will be given. I am all for giving gifts. The issue is that tomorrow gifts are expected. 15+ years ago Kim told me that she didn’t want flowers on Valentines day, but she wanted flowers the other days of the year. She doesn’t want a gift because it is expected. She wants to be surprised. Her desire is for me to randomly surprise her throughout the year with something special.
#4: Date regularly
Kim and I will not fight the crowds tomorrow to have a romantic, candlelit dinner. Our normal Valentine’s Day ritual is to sit on the couch, in our lounge around the house attire, and watch TV. We do not need Valentine’s Day to fill our “date quota”. We have consistently gone on dates over our 16+ years of marriage. Right now our Friday’s are our date days. We drop the kids off at school and the enjoy the day together. There are times where we are creative and other times we enjoy the monotony of Starbucks and a movie. There are times where we have deep life conversations and other times the conversation is a random conglomeration of nonsense. There are times where we want to be together and there are a few times where we have had to force our time together. Whatever stage of life you are in, you need to date your spouse on a weekly basis. Communication, sexual satisfaction, and commitment all increase the more time you spend one-on-one with each other. (Check out the National Marriage Project date-night report here.)
#5: Make every day, Valentine’s Day
If you ask Kim about Valentine’s Day, she will respond with an overly energetic and sarcastic “Every day is Valentine’s Day with Chris.” In all seriousness, every day we try to serve each other. Every day we try to honor each other. Every day we try to sacrificially love each other. Every day we try to use our words, not to tear down, but to build each other up. There are many moments where we come up short, but our commitment is to deepen our friendship – daily.
So here is my free relationship advice: Take Valentine’s Day off. Enjoy tomorrow without all the pressure and inflated expectations. As the rest of the country is frantically trying to finish the shopping, sit and smile. Then on Saturday, kick back and focus on how you can make every day – Valentine’s Day. If you do that, your relationship will thrive.