Too many couples find that Valentine’s Day is a yearly reminder of what they don’t have – the “picture perfect” marriage with both partners arriving home with red roses, a bottle of wine and sex on their minds. Like in the magazines, right?! Except that’s not how it happens for many couples, particularly if you are struggling in your relationship. So here are four tips for surviving what may be the worst Hallmark Card holiday of them all!
Take one day and turn it into many. Which King or Queen made 2/14 THE day of the year on which you MUST express your appreciation for your partner?! I would rather have my partner look into my eyes once a day, once a week, or once a month even, and tell me he cares than get me a predictable bunch of red roses I don’t even like once a year. It’s the ongoing effort that counts. (I love many flowers, just not red roses! As a gift, they are too predictable – the “easy way out” of flowers!)
Lead, don’t wait. If you must celebrate your love on 2/14, don’t sit back and wait for your ADHD partner to whip up something special and wonderful for you. He or she might do that, and if so you get a real bonus. But how many people have written to me on 2/15 to say how the fact that their partner didn’t remember Valentine’s Day has made them feel hopeless? I’ll answer that – WAY too many! This isn’t a contest to see if someone who is distracted or has memory problems remembers – if you want to celebrate be overt about it – bring it up. Talk about it. Set up something you both agree will be fun. Then do it.
Have sex. Okay – tricky waters here. If you have a no-sex relationship, this advice is NOT for you (too much pressure!) But if you are currently having sex at least once in a while, then put any reservations you might have aside for the night (or maybe the night after. Again, the date isn't all that important.) Engage in some caressing, and some sex. Visit a sex toys site together. Get naked in front of the fire. Or maybe take a hot bath together…or talk about your fantasies, or…something spontaneous. You might need to make an appointment to get this to happen (schedule your spontaneity!) – so be it. Give up being angry…just because you can…just for one night. It’ll be fun (hopefully). I call it using Valentine’s Day as an excuse to enjoy yourselves in your own way. Why not?
Think of Valentine’s as the “New Year’s” of love - set a new resolution. Personally, I think one of the best ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day is to not get all hung up in the roses or the date, but to use the day (or one of the days nearby) to set a new, longer-term path to better connection with our partners. The way we use Jan 1 to set New Year's resolutions. That might be deciding you’ll tell him you love him once a day for a month. Or that you will send her an email once a day with something that you appreciate about her (if you have ADHD, that might mean setting a daily reminder to do so – that’s okay! It’s the communication of the message that matters, not that you have to remind yourself!)
My bottom line? Don’t let the pressure of meeting others’ expectations about what Feb 14 is supposed to “stand for” or “look like” (dinner, roses, wine, a card) make one day of the year feel awful. Focus on the bigger picture – that it’s good to reinforce that you care on any day of the year. Valentine’s Day is really just another day.