You don’t have to buy in to all the tacky cards in the shops, or the overpriced meals in restaurants. Instead, you can create Valentine’s Day on your terms and make it about the most important thing: Love. Some couples cook a special meal for one another, or give a card.
Yet the following romance ideas aren’t necessarily about celebrating Valentine’s Day itself, but about making time for your relationship. So, if doing ‘something special’ on Valentine’s Day makes you cringe, use these ideas for ways to make any evening special. By setting aside an evening here and there for your relationship, you’re sending out a loud message that it’s important to you and deserves your loving attention.
Popular psychologist and writer Oliver James’s book Love Bombing revealed why a day of our total love, attention and presence can make a real difference to children with ‘behavioural difficulties’. The premise is simple, but it works. Where attention goes, energy flows. So applying the same theory to our relationship with our partner – especially when we’re going through challenging times – will have huge benefits too and is just as important.
Schedule in a magical evening of connection with your partner and the warm glow impacts all of your family’s life. Whether you choose to share a meal together, watch a movie, give each other a massage, or simply get into bed, here are five ways to make the most of your Valentine:
- Pamper yourself: We all need reminding of the saying: You have to love yourself before other people can love you. If you’re feeling in need of a bit of TLC, book in some time for an uninterrupted pamper session. Nourish yourself in whatever way feels most conducive to your emotional and physical health. That might mean a lovely hot bath with decadent aromatherapy oils, or a relaxing massage, or a pedicure or haircut…maybe a long run or a yoga session will renew you. It might just be some time curled up with a hot water bottle and a good book. Factor in this time before your evening of love with your partner in order to recharge your batteries and really feel your very best. When you’re feeling nourished and tended to – even on a very small scale – you have more energy and wellbeing to share with others. This is especially true if you’re not feeling good about your body or health at the moment: taking time out to reconnect and care for it helps you to see how the relationship between mind and body impacts our relationships with those we love. When we feel sexy, we look sexy!
- Create your love nest: Often easier said than done with a houseful of kids, but setting the stage for an evening of connection makes all the difference. Clear away clutter, put toys in baskets and boxes and out of sight. Get all that unopened mail off the table and clothes tidied up and put away. Our environment has an impact on how connected we feel, and creating a space that is clear, clutter-free and sacred helps get us in the right frame of mind. Light some candles and burn some beautiful essential oils in an oil burner - ylang ylang, sandalwood, patchouli and rose are all ambient love-nest oils, but check that you like the smells before burning. If you’re planning an evening in bed, change the sheets, plump the pillows and make it feel and look lovely (get rid of those dusty mugs on the bedside table!). If you’re savouring a special meal together, lay the table properly and light candles. It’s all these small acts that create the ambience and set the intention.
- Listen: Giving our partner our undivided attention makes them feel respected and honoured. In the latest issue of the Green Parent (57), author of The Queen’s Code, Alison Armstrong, writes about how men and women listen differently. Men are single-focused so women sometimes confuse them with their conversational tangents. But women can operate under the misconception that their men just don’t know how to converse, and Armstrong argues that it’s all to do with the way in which we listen. She believes that we need to observe the 30 second rule after listening with our full concentration – waiting for this amount of time after our partner has opened up actually enables them to open up even further. To read more of Alison’s work, you can visit The Queens Code. To make the most of your evening with your partner, commit to giving them your full attention so that means putting aside whatever it is you’re doing and really being present.
- Look: See your partner through new eyes. Focus on one part of them you really love and find attractive: it might be their eyes or their hands or something else entirely! It can be tempting to slip into what we don’t like about our partner’s appearance, so really choosing to see what is beautiful about them helps change that negative outlook. And enjoy being gazed at: according to research undertaken at the Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience in the US, the emotion control centre of the brain, the amygdala, shows significantly higher levels of activation in men viewing sexual visual stimuli than women viewing the same images. Men like to look, so don’t hide your body away from your partner – let them soak it up with their eyes.
- Let them know you love them: Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse from Australia wrote in her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying that many people close to death wished they had expressed their feelings more. Whether that’s speaking your truth when you’re upset, or telling someone you love them, just vocalising our feelings is incredibly freeing and empowering. Be specific with your compliments too: say ‘I love the way you comforted our daughter today; you’re such a good dad’ or ‘that jumper really matches your eyes, you look very handsome today’. If you’re not the kind of couple who usually compliment each other, or go in for the ‘lovey dovey’ stuff, instead avoid making negative comments about your partner as a starting point, even what you might usually describe as harmless teasing. Over time this kind of ribbing can undermine a person’s confidence even if they seem to find it funny on the surface: you might like to gradually introduce more positive comments as time goes on. Some people find it easier to express their feelings through actions, so find ways that show your partner you love and care for them.
Article by Lucy Corkhill