Valentine’s Day has become the yearly symbol of all that is special in a romantic relationship: adoration, appreciation, love. It is the calendar’s trigger for us to exhibit our emotions, be it with material gifts or sentimental expressions of love. In many couples, one or both of the partners anxiously await this holiday as the one time of year where they feel doted upon in a special way.
Valentine’s Day—or at least the expressions of love and caring that come with it—should take place every day, not just on February 14, and not just because there are pink and red hearts in all the shop windows.
Kindness and generosity
John Gottman is a psychologist who has been researching couples for more than 40 years. He has developed a method to determine whether or not a relationship is happy, and whether or not it will last for the long term. Specifically, he discovered that couples that exhibit kindness and generosity toward each other have better chances at long-term success and happiness.
The attributes of kindness and generosity come easier to some more than others. That said, being kind to our partners can be learned through practice and diligence. One way to have a more fulfilling and happy relationship is to make the exhibitions of love that happen on Valentine’s Day an everyday occurrence. Find ways to let your partner know that you love and appreciate him or her on a daily basis.
Make the effort, just not all at once
We are not saying you need to do all of the practices every day! These are ideas—Valentine’s Day-style romantic efforts that can be worked into everyday life. Here are eight terrific ways to get started.
1. Leave love notes on sticky notes and leave them around your house in hidden places (not too hidden) such as on a toothbrush, inside of a suitcase before travel or on the dashboard of the car.
2. Take five to 10 minutes out of your day to tell your partner all of the things that you love about him or her, everything from “You have a nice smile” to “I appreciate that you always make the coffee for me in the morning.”
3. Leave a sexy or romantic message on the bathroom mirror your partner can find when going to bed at night or getting ready to leave in the morning.
4. Surprise your partner by taking over one of his or her chores for the day. If your partner typically takes out the trash, let him or her be surprised by discovering you have already done it. Tell your partner you were trying to make his or her day a little bit easier.
5. Try to listen to your partner more attentively every day. Most of us are so busy and distracted that we do not always completely listen to what our partners are telling us. Make a concerted effort to focus, listen and respond in an attentive way.
6. Surprise your partner with a favorite treat. Stop by and pick up a doughnut or favorite coffee drink, and bring home, or drop it at the office when your partner doesn’t know that you’re coming.
7. In the middle of a busy day, check in and send a kind and loving email or text to your partner. Let your partner know you have been thinking about him or her, ask how his or her day is going, or just say how grateful you are to have them in your life.
8. Carve out some extra time to be attentive to your partner’s needs. Ask how you can make your partner’s day easier today, and then do your best to accomplish doing just that.
These ideas will not only enhance your relationship, but you will also find that you’ve started a cycle that reverberates and creates more happiness for both of you—with or without the pink and red candy hearts.
Stacy Kaiser is a licensed psychotherapist, author, relationship expert and media personality. She is also the author of the best-selling book, How to Be a Grown Up: The Ten Secret Skills Everyone Needs to Know, and an editor-at-large for Live Happy. Stacy is a frequent guest on television programs such as Today and Good Morning America.