How to Get More Out of Valentine's Day Believe it or not, Valentine’s Day is an important time to really show your spouse the love and appreciation you hold for them. Use these tips to get the most out of this special day! BY ELLIOTT CONNIE
Use the holiday to take a look at your marriage and implement steps to validate and improve it.
“ Valentine's Day is a once-a-year opportunity to try out new behaviors that can strengthen your relationship.”
Many couples (particularly males) have come to view Valentine's Day as a tedious obligation: to buy chocolates or flowers, to go out for a "romantic" dinner, or to trudge off to the local drug store in search of a silly or syrupy card.
Having coached thousands of couples and trained thousands of couples' counselors worldwide, I'd like to offer you a new perspective: Valentine's Day is a once-a-year opportunity to try out new behaviors that can strengthen your relationship.
As long as you've already committed to spending the evening together, why not make the most of it? Here are three strategies I've shared with couples through the years that really help strengthen their bond, make them more appreciative of each other, and help them focus in on the positive aspects of their marriage.
Remember when you first met. There's a reason why couples love to talk about when they first met. That's when they were newly in love, there was still mystery, and they shared exciting physical attraction. Have a conversation with your partner this Valentine's Day about all the things you loved about each other then, what you did to show it, and how it felt. By doing this, you will not only remind yourself and your partner about the positive elements of your relationship, but you'll also trigger many of those same emotions. If during your reminiscing questions like this come up: "Why don't we make love/travel/go out with friends, etc. as often anymore?" agree to have a follow-up talk the next day—but not now. You want to keep your Valentine's Day dialogue positive.
Project your future together. Another healing conversation for couples that sometimes fall into a relationship rut is to have one that's focused on the future. But there's a catch—this isn't some vague dreamy-eyed conversation—this is a specific talk about 50 things you each want to see in your relationship one year from now. All items have to be written in the positive. So, "We won't fight about money," becomes, "We'll find solutions to our money issues together." I tell couples to write down 50 items. You have to do it together, and you can't stop until you reach 50. Not only will this fun activity spark laughter and bring up surprises, but now you have a Valentine's Day "contract" of sorts. You can review it next Valentine's Day to see how well you did!
Validate each other. When was the last time your spouse told you how beautiful, smart, talented, thoughtful, or sexy you are? For many couples, especially those who have been together a long time, it's easy to take each other for granted. The problem is, we all need to feel valued, loved, fussed over, and appreciated. Our love partner is the perfect person to give this validation to us. Instead of saying, "I love you" on Valentine's Day, take turns with your partner sharing qualities you love and appreciate about each other. The rule is that this conversation has to last 10 whole minutes, and it's a give and take. Notice how glowing you feel afterwards—works better than chocolate!
Elliott Connie is a best-selling author, well-known couples therapist, and an internationally known speaker and teacher who trains clinicians in Solution-Focused Brief Therapy around the world. His newest book is "The Solution-Focused Marriage." Learn more at www.elliottspeaks.com and follow him on Google+.