As Valentine’s Day approaches, many people will rush out to purchase flowers or maybe chocolates for their significant other, but few will stop to appreciate the day’s true significance.
Valentine’s Day is about much more than the giving of gifts and should be used to connect - or reconnect - with your partner in deeper and meaningful way.
“This Valentine’s Day we’d really like to encourage people to see past the flowers and chocolates and use February 14 as an opportunity to reignite the spark in their relationship,” said relationship expert and Relationships Australia WA Executive Director Kylie Dunjey.
“For many, Valentine’s Day has lost its significance. It’s become over-commercialised, overpriced and almost a glorified date night. But the reality is it remains a very important occasion because it’s the one time during the year our relationships are brought into focus. It’s also a unique opportunity to communicate with your partner on a level that most people rarely reach.
“We’re not saying that flowers and gifts aren’t important. They’re great way to show you value your relationship. But the message we’d really like people to keep in mind is that Valentine’s Day should be an extension of any relationship, not something celebrated in isolation.”
Ms Dunjey encouraged people to think outside the box to make this Valentine’s Day more meaningful.
“A perfect starting point for those looking to do something a bit different this year is to think about what makes their partner smile,” she said.
“This doesn’t necessarily have to involve obligatory gifts and could be something as simple as cooking dinner, going for a walk together or maybe enjoying a sleep-in.
“When it comes to Valentine’s Day, what you say is often just as important as what you do. People shouldn’t take for granted the value of telling someone what they mean to them, whether that’s to their face or written in a card.
“And if Valentine’s Day just isn’t yours and your partner’s thing, that’s also okay. People should feel comfortable in how they choose to mark Valentine’s Day and use the day - at the most fundamental level - to communicate.”
For those who are single, Valentine’s Day can be an especially difficult time, however, there are still ways to celebrate, according to Ms Dunjey.
“At its core, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and love isn’t confined to the romantic type,” Ms Dunjey said.
“For those who are single, why not gather a group of friends or family and take some time to acknowledge the special relationships you share.
“You could also use the day as an opportunity to treat yourself to something special – a new pair of shoes, a day spa or perhaps even a weekend away.
“To be able to fully love others you must first be able to love the person you are and I think Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to recognise that love comes in many different forms.”
How to make this Valentine’s Day one to remember
Tips for a more meaningful Valentine’s Day
- Don’t assume your partner feels the same about you about Valentine’s Day. If the day is important to you, let your partner know. It could save a lot of disappointment later.
- There is no need to be extravagant or spend a lot of money. Your celebration can just be something meaningful between the two of you.
- Focus on your relationships every day. Relationships experts agree that valuing your relationship, and acknowledging and celebrating the good things about a partner is important – not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day of the year.
- Express affection and give your partner thoughtful little surprises like a small gift, a flower from the garden on their bedside table, a favourite treat, an unpacked dishwasher or a special meal. Simple gestures that show you have thought about the other person can be just right.
- Many couples consider getting help when things go wrong, however you can help to strengthen you relationship at any time. Relationships Australia WA offers a range of courses to help improve communication, learn new skills, manage conflict and strengthen relationships.
Inexpensive ways to show your partner your love
- Re-enact your first date – if you can’t return to the exact place, try to re-create the circumstances and the romance of that first meeting.
- Hand-write a book of lover’s cheques – each ‘cheque’ is for something special that you can do for your partner, who can ‘cash’ them in at any time.
- Organise a beach picnic – just for the two of you. Choose a private spot and pack some special treats.
- Leave hidden messages in places where your partner is bound to find them, one for every year you have been together.
- Have fun together. Schedule a ‘date’ night once a month, which doesn’t have to be expensive.
- Make a romantic playlist for your partner and include old favourites as well as current hits.
Advice for building a better relationship
- Talk about your day and the things that both excite or worry you.
- Listen to your partner and communicate your needs. Don't wait for your partner to try to guess what is going on for you.
- Tell your partner when you are happy or unhappy about something – honestly and respectfully - and encourage your partner to do the same. This is better than avoiding difficult topics.
- Respect and accept both your differences and your similarities. Try not to make judgements when your partner makes mistakes, or doesn’t do things your way.
- Aim to be flexible and willing to change or try something new.
- Show appreciation for your partner and focus on his/her good qualities. Talk about your partner in positive terms to others.
- Share the load - agree on who will do what in the household and to what standard.
- Make some time just for yourself and encourage your partner to do the same.