Valentine's Day is upon us. In theory, it's a day that is supposed to be filled with flower deliveries, sweet notes, romantic dinners followed by chocolatey desserts and maybe something sparkly in a tiny box. In reality, that's not always the case. It can be a stress-filled time as we try to find the perfect gift for our loved one and worry that we will miss the mark. It can be disappointing, or worse yet, the beginnings of an argument if we don't feel that our special someone put in the thought or effort we'd hoped for. It can be depressing or lonely for someone without a significant other. For many reasons, it's not always the lovey dovey day that it's cracked up to be.
A bit of a perspective shift might make all the difference in your perception of this holiday. For the single person, taking the focus off of yourself could be helpful. Valentine's Day is about sharing love, whether or not it's with a significant other. Make Valentine's cards and treats for friends and family. Deliver a sweet little something to a neighbor or an elderly acquaintance. Brightening someone else's day has a way of also brightening our own. It feels good to make others feel good.
In our family, Valentine's Day isn't just about our relationship as husband and wife. We also enjoy treating our kids, and setting an example for them of how to express love. I set the table with a lace tablecloth and candles as a special surprise when they come downstairs for breakfast, along with a card or candy for each child. I like to make a special supper at home, something like steak and shrimp, roasted potatoes and asparagus, sparkling juice and molten chocolate cakes for dessert. (We never take our kids to a restaurant on Valentine's Day though. Nothing can put a damper on a kid-free date like being seated next to a booth filled with someone else's kids, so we don't want to be that family seated beside a couple who is trying to enjoy romantic time together.) Depending on our schedule, Matt and I might arrange to have a nice dinner out on a different night.
Boyfriends and husbands are often the ones who are the most stressed out about Valentine's Day. Let's face it, if your guy really loves you, he truly does want to make you happy, even if he doesn't always succeed. But let's face this too...it's not always easy to know HOW to make a woman happy! Go to the grocery story at 5pm on Valentine's Day and count how many men are walking out with bouquets of whatever flowers they could find at the last minute. Coming up with the right gift can be difficult. They really don't want to miss the mark, leave us feeling disappointed, and end the evening in a bitter argument. Gift giving is tricky though. There is no universal recipe for a gift that will make someone feel special, adored, appreciated and cared for.
Thank goodness for love languages! Do you know what your partner's love language is? If not, we highly recommend the book "5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. Order it here via Amazon for under $10 in time for Valentine's Day! Knowing you partner's love language will help decipher the mystery of gift giving, as well as how to create a happier, more peaceful relationship by making sure your loved one FEELS loved and appreciated. If your relationship is peppered with arguments that sound like "You never...!" and "You always...!" and "Why can't you ever....?", you might be speaking the wrong love language and definitely stand to benefit from learning more about these concepts.
When it comes to gift giving, we're all a little different. I'm a practical person. When Matt gives me a gift, it doesn't need to be extravagant. I simply enjoy knowing that Matt thought about me and wanted to give me something special. My love language is Words of Affirmation, so I love it when Matt writes me a nice letter that shows appreciation for the day-to-day things I do for our family. Those letters are my favorite gifts. I save every one of them and I have quite a collection that goes back to our dating days. I enjoy re-reading them, and it makes me feel special knowing that Matt appreciates all those little things that may otherwise seem to go unnoticed.
A person whose love language actually is Receiving Gifts is the person who loves to get a bouquet of flowers (more often than just on February 14th), a box of chocolates, or a more extravagant gift, or they may drop hints to you about something in particular they'd like. A person whose love language is Physical Affection would enjoy snuggling on the couch followed by a backrub. A person whose love language is Acts of Service will feel cared for if you tell her to relax while you handle her usual household duties or check something off of your honey-do list. And a person whose love language is Quality Time might enjoy playing a card game, taking a day trip, or working on a project together.
If the idea of Love Languages isn't something that you've thought much about previously, and if you feel that you have a lot of miscommunications and arguments in your relationship, it might be difficult to get started with the idea. The book does include a quiz that helps identify your love language, but it might not be entirely accurate at first. If a person has not been feeling adequately loved for awhile, meaning their "love tank" is empty, it may be difficult to identify just what they're craving. (That's not to say you don't love one another...but if you're not speaking each other's language, all your best efforts aren't going to fill their tank.) You may need to try lots of different ideas over time, and then take the quiz again later to find out what best fills your partner's love tank. You can also try the process of elimination. You might already know that receiving gifts isn't very important to you or that you don't require a lot of physical affection, so you can rule those out.
We truly believe that important relationships require and deserve the time and effort put into learning how to be our best selves, and how to best make our partner feel loved. The Five Love Languages book is one of the greatest investments you can make in your relationship, so if you're at a loss for a Valentine's gift, just order the book (or maybe two copies...one for each of you) and have that be your gift! Your loved one will feel very special knowing that you care enough to invest this effort in your relationship.
Happy Valentine's Day! Spread the love!
Blessings from our homestead to yours,
Ang & Matt