Valentine’s Day: How to observe Feb 14th in a way that works for YOU.
by (Liz) Elizabeth Perkins, MA, MFT
Approximately 30 seconds after Christmas dinner is cleared from the table, grocery store aisles are lined with red heart boxes, teddy bears, and chocolate roses; it’s Valentine’s prep. This holiday may be one of the most divisive in relationships. We don’t really argue about which family we’ll visit or which day we’ll book travel. Logistics take the backseat to symbolism. All around us, the conversation about what Valentine’s Day means to us starts popping up with friends and especially with significant others. Couples are often faced with the talk about if “Valentine’s Day is a big deal to you”. Some of us are more than happy to grab a box of truffles, make a dinner reservation and chill a bottle of champagne. Others feel that this holiday is a contrived, commercial suggestion of how we celebrate our love and feel put upon by the instance of commercials and store displays. The truth is, no one is wrong.
Indeed, February 14th observation is a choice. Because it’s already on the calendar for us, it may be an easy day to remember to make time for connection with someone you love. If you are thinking outside the (candy) box this year and want to connect with your special one in a different way, there are some key feelings that we’d like to highlight and bring a new approach to. Rather than focusing on what we need to wrap and package for the holiday, this year, ask yourself and your partner what you want to achieve or how you want to become closer and let the feeling lead the activity.
Vulnerability: Perhaps one of the biggest themes in couples. Without allowing ourselves to be really seen by our partners, in our weakness and our strengths, we can not feel truly supported and accepted. Our egos have always been there to protect us, and we have to ask our ego to please exit the room for a moment so we can let the scared, insecure, or frail parts of ourselves come forward and be seen so we can be loved.
*activity: Try something new as a couple - rock climbing, a painting class, a cooking class. Do something that you’re NOT already good at. Let yourself play, take a risk, be embarrassed and laugh at yourself - and with your partner*
Chemistry: Literally. We often talk of “chemistry” as a vague spark we feel when near that special person. However, the chemical reaction we refer to is real. “...research shows that in moments of responsive emotional engagement, our brains are flooded with oxytocin….It seems to create a cascade of pleasure, comfort, and calm.”,asserts Dr. Sue Johnson, in her groundbreaking book on Emotionally Focused Therapy, Hold Me Tight. This means we can literally create this spark by making room for deliberate physical connection.
*activity: Flirt with your partner. Make prolonged eye contact. Hold hands when taking a walk. Be deliberate in creating physical contact in whatever way feels best for you two. This energy, in turn, creates energy and connection*
Humor: The saying “Laughter is the best medicine” exists for a reason. We are able to laugh when we let our guard down. Valentine’s Day can be buttoned with expectations of what it’s “supposed” to be. Don’t fall into that trap - Do what is the most fun to you both, not what couples on tv do.You’re a real couple, they’re not….so have fun and be yourself.
*activity: Adult trip to Disneyland, an 80s movie marathon at home, a trip to the batting cages or bowling alley. Be each other’s biggest fan at Bad Karaoke. (the worse you are the BETTER).
Wishing you a happy and connected February 14th! Enjoy your best version of Valentine’s Day!
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