The holiday of love is right around the corner, at least as far as the marketing machine known as Valentine’s Day is concerned, and if you’re wondering what to do for your spouse or significant other, you’re not alone. Turn on any morning show or do a quick search around the web, and you’ll find all sorts of suggestions on what “experts” think is the perfect gift or date for this special day.
Some say jewelry. Others put their money – literally – on an expensive dinner and night on the town. Perhaps going to the ballet or opera. Then there are those who argue that the most important thing is being together, and that you can get just as much out of hanging out at home and enjoying a movie that you both want to see.
The truth? There is no one-size-fits-all perfect Valentine’s Day. This should be obvious, but in our desire to please the one we love (and, it must be said, for easy answers), we desperately want someone to tell us the thing to do.
So how do you know what you should do for your spouse or significant other?
Learn Your Spouse’s Love Style, Learn What They Want
I’ve written before about how everyone loves differently or has a different “love language.” What’s going to impress your spouse the most on Valentine’s Day is the same thing that’s going to impress him or her any other day of the year. Someone who likes grand gestures is going to want a grand gesture. Those who appreciate romantic time together may have a hard time imagining anything better than a two-person bubble bath with wine and relaxing music. Knowing what’s “perfect” for your spouse means knowing what makes them feel loved.
Without going into great detail about the various “languages of love” that we speak (feel free to follow the above link for an article that does just that), you should know that there are five different basic types of people – at least in terms of what makes us feel loved: gifts, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and words of affirmation.
With that in mind, what should you get for each type of person?
Gifts. If gifts make your partner feel loved, you want to buy (or make) something for him or her. But it goes beyond that. First off, you still have to consider what kind of gift that they would likely want – last-minute chocolates may hurt more than they help. But don’t just buy something because it’s expensive either. If your significant other isn’t into jewelry, it won’t matter how many carats you get. Instead start by thinking about the things that matter most to them, such as hobbies, sports, and family activities, and the types of items they enjoy shopping for when given the chance.
Quality time. You are what matters most for those who enjoy quality time above all else. For some, that may mean planning an outing together that retraces the path of your first date or lets you do something you’ve been wanting to do together. Others may be moved by an evening spent watching the stars or an elaborate meal that you cook together – even if it’s a disaster. What matters is that you’re side by side.
Physical touch. Is your partner into PDA? Do they get cranky if you’re not holding hands, kissing, or hugging? Some people need physical interaction with their partner to stoke the flames of love. If this describes your spouse, do something that keeps you in contact – the bubble bath mentioned above, a dance class, a romantic (or scary!) movie that makes you hold onto each other, booking a hotel for the night so you have the privacy to get close.
Acts of service. If your spouse is moved by you doing something to make their life easier, Valentine’s Day is a great occasion to let him sleep in and make him breakfast in bed or to take her dirty car in and get it detailed so that she can take a much-needed nap. (Tip: These are also great Valentine’s Day gifts for parents of young children, where nothing feels like love so much as taking something – even something small – off of your plate.)
Words of affirmation. Some people just need to hear that you love them and appreciate them. If your spouse is one of those individuals, don’t just tell him you love him as you walk out the door – compose a bunch of Post-It notes and leave them all around the house so he’ll find them as he goes about his day. Write a poem or song describing your love (it doesn’t have to be high art) and perform it for her. If you’re really ambitious, you could even create a video and interview people to get them to say why they appreciate your spouse – ending with your own heartfelt testimonial, of course.
If you’re still not sure what to do for your spouse, ask. Find out what Valentine’s gifts or events have meant the most to your spouse in the past, or what types of things he or she wants to do. Make it clear that you’re not trying to “get out of” coming up with an idea – but that you want a little guidance to make sure that you’re letting your spouse know how you feel.
Having trouble with the conversation? Get the conversation going with a bit of help during a Houston relationship counseling session, or consider attending an Imago couples workshop together. The Couple’s Workshop in Houston/Galveston is the most powerful and effective way to learn the tools you need to communicate more effectively about any issue, and it also shows your commitment to the relationship. In fact, it’s a gift that will allow you to practice quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and words of affirmation – covering your bases no matter which of the 5 languages of love your partner needs.
In just one weekend class, participants usually get the benefits of six months of excellent couple’s therapy. Visit the Couples Workshop page to learn more about this very safe and gentle, yet powerful, experience for couples.