Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the romance has to stop in a relationship or take a backseat now that the holiday is over and done. According to our Houston area expert, Emily deAyala, you can make the most of Valentine’s Day and every day with your special someone. Just because the holiday is gone doesn’t and shouldn’t mean you have “lost that loving feeling.”
Lisa Carey: Many couples approach Valentine’s Day with excitement and anticipation, but also a little bit of dread. After all it can put a great deal of pressure on a relationship when a whole holiday is created around showing how much you care. And, often that care is evidenced by how big or spectacular a splash your gift is.
Emily deAyala: I’ll be honest. If it were up to me, my blanket recommendation would be to skip the whole thing. How sad is it that we do so little to express our love and appreciation for our partner that an entire holiday had to be created to remind us? I honestly believe (and can attest) that if we made more of an effort to show how much we care on a regular basis, we wouldn’t have to rely so heavily on one day.
L.C.: What are some things we can do, not only on Valentine’s Day but throughout the year to keep the romance alive in a relationship?
E.D.: Whether it’s for Valentine’s Day, an anniversary, or other holiday one thing you can do to relieve the stress of making the perfect plan or purchasing the perfect gift is to avoid waiting till the last minute. Waiting until the last minute will bring tense energy into what should be a happy event in your relationship. Here’s a tip for all the guys out there, and this may be the ultimate tip.
Take 10 minutes, pull out your phone, and set sporadic reminders every 4 to 6 weeks to do something special for your partner. It could be something simple like picking up flowers on your way home, to a more grand gesture like a surprise weekend away. Trust me. This works. Even though you know you love you partner, life can easily get in the way, making it difficult to remember to show her. Setting reminders will help keep you on track.
And, remember the focus of whatever you have planned. This is a time to spend together as a couple. Consider going out without your cell phones.
L.C.: What are some ways we can better manage our expectations? Some couples believe that a holiday or special event causes an immediate connection and then the pressure is really on when it fails to spark.
E.D.: If it has been a while since you’ve connected romantically or sexually, don’t expect instant gratification in both arenas just because it’s holiday or special occasion. For women especially, foreplay starts long before you both hop in the sack. In fact, take the pressure of yourself by planning something jointly. Ask her what she’s in the mood for and how she’d like to celebrate. Coming up with an idea together can build excitement for you both and manage the expectations of some grand gesture, which may even miss the mark entirely.
L.C.: It seems like no matter what the occasion flowers and chocolates are overdone. Whether it’s saying “I’m Sorry,” or “I Love You” these two gift always seem to make an appearance. What can couples do to go out with the old and in with the new when it comes to gifts of the heart?
E.D.: I think it’s important to get creative. Research shows that when we do something novel with our partner, chemicals are released that make us feel even more connected to each other. When was the last time you took a walk through the zoo or had a picnic in the park? Have you ever seen a burlesque show or invented a signature cocktail? Connecting with the parts of yourself that are creative, fun, playful, and inventive will not only strengthen your relationship but also develop a foundation of positive memories, which will help you get through lower points in the relationship.
Thank you so much Emily for providing these helpful relationship tips to use not only on holidays but every day and throughout the year.
About Emily deAyala MA, LPC, LMFT is an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist with Houston Sex Therapy, PLLC