I’m curious. What is your attitude each year when Valentine’s Day rolls around? Happy anticipation . . . or not so much? Many people look forward to a little extra romantic sweetness. But some people dread the day—singles who wish they were in a relationship, wives who feel disappointed year after year with a husband who doesn’t do much to mark the occasion, husbands who do their best to make their wives feel special but feel like their efforts never seem to hit the mark. Others are cynical about the whole notion—it’s just a money-making scheme by the greeting card and candy companies, right?
I’ll tell you my own personal bias: I’m not cynical about Valentine’s Day (I’m all for helpful reminders to purposefully be attuned to the one we love!), but I wish we could view February 14 not as the annual pinnacle of romance, but as a catalyst and jumping off point for year-round romance. After all—shouldn’t we be just as attuned to our mate’s needs in mid-May, early October and late December as we are on February 14?
How can you keep that awareness? Here are a few key tips from our research, for every-day actions and habits that will give you that Valentine’s Day sense of romance, all year long.
Remember that you may not naturally be as attuned to what your spouse most needs—or might be hurt by.
Because men and women tend to have different primary insecurities and needs, we often don’t realize that our spouse isn’t as moved by those “romantic” things that would touch our own hearts—and, worse, we sometimes don’t realize that we could actually be hurting our spouse in ways that seem minor to us. I’ll give you just one example.
Jeff and I recently spoke at a marriage conference and got into conversation with several couples about this exact topic. Interestingly, the consensus from the men was that their wives were great at being purposeful about what they (the wives) saw as the romantic aspects of marriage (date nights, candlelit dinners, heart-to-heart talks after the kids are in bed) but that they were not nearly as purposeful about how their day-to-day words and tone came across.
On the flip side, the consensus from the women was that men are often more aware of being cautious with their wife’s feelings in their words and tone but are less aware of the need for regular efforts to make her feel special.
Step up the type of romance that is most important to your spouse!
So guys, as a result, you probably need to step up your romantic game with efforts that say “love” to your wife, whether that means suggesting a regular date night out, or simply giving of your time. And here’s the encouragement: it doesn’t have to mean regularly arranging a big production. After all, she probably thinks its romantic when you simply put your arm around her in church! So don’t wait for the one day of the year that’s targeted to romance—build romantic gestures and words into the other 364 days of the year.
And ladies, you probably need to step up your romantic game in the words, tone and actions that say “love” to your husband, which most likely includes being sure to verbally affirm him in areas where he doubts himself (“I’m so proud of you for how you handled our daughter’s attitude this morning.” “Thanks for making my coffee. I feel so loved.”) That daily affirmation, respect and trust is his version of romance! (As is, as you might suspect, affirmation in the bedroom.) So be generous with him and build those actions and words into the other 364 days of the year.
So that’s my encouragement and challenge to all of us: Let’s resolve to celebrate the spirit of Valentine’s Day far beyond February 14. Let’s stay attuned to our spouse’s specific relationship needs and keep the romance going all year round!
Find Christ-focused wonder in the midst of everyday life no matter what your situation might be. Pick up a copy of Shaunti’s latest devotional, Find Joy, available in major bookstores.
Check out Shaunti’s latest book and Discussion Guide (co-authored with her husband, Jeff), Thriving in Love and Money. Because you need a better relationship, not just a better budget.
This article was first published at Patheos.