Couple cooking together in the kitchen. Woman hugging man, wine on the counter

Your COVID-Proof Valentine’s Day Agenda

Valentine’s Day isn’t about love. It’s not even about romance. It’s about appreciation. Your partner should know that you love them. And in 2021, showing appreciation is more necessary than ever, because we’ve all just lived through a horrific, stressful and tragic year, and just about the only positive thing that can be said about 2020 is that it helped to highlight the importance of loved ones.

While you might not be the most romantic guy in the world, you’ve probably made a few grand romantic gestures each year, perhaps to celebrate a birthday or promotion, or because you were looking to rekindle that spark in the bedroom again. Whatever the reason, good. Keep doing that.

But, how often do you say “I appreciate you”? How often do you show through your actions that you’re not taking your S.O. for granted? It’s the little things, such as picking up dinner when you know they’ve been swamped with work or adding their laundry to your own, to take one small thing off their busy schedule, that shows your appreciation.

“Expressing appreciation shows that you value and respect one another,” explains Amazon best-selling author and executive mind coach Cynthia Dougherty, Ph.D. “Appreciation acknowledges the efforts each person is putting in the relationship to grow together and invest into one another’s happiness.”

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time for grand gestures of appreciation. You want to make it clear that you not only recognize everything that your S.O. does for you on a daily basis, but that you also value them for thinking of you.

“Making that effort really is the point of the holiday,” adds Gigi Engle, a certified sex coach and educator. “You should always put effort into your relationship and make things special, but Valentine’s Day is a chance to be over the top and show your partner you think they’re magical.”

This, of course, begs the question “How do I show my appreciation?” because a bouquet of roses or a box of chocolates might not cut it, and many of the traditional V-Day events (concerts, fancy dinners, dancing in a night club) are probably off-limits at the moment.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to offer a one-size-fits-all perfect V-Day itinerary that complements the dynamic of every relationship. Nevertheless, here are a few suggestions, and hopefully, from there, you’ll be able to personalize the day for your one-and-only.

How to Have the Perfect V-Day

Do Something That Will Enhance Their Everyday Life: First, try to think about something that would enhance their life not for a few hours, but for the rest of the year. This can come in the form of an actual gift, action, or event. Let’s say your sweetheart is a big reader, and books are beginning to pile up on their desk. You could buy them a book, which sounds cute, or you could give them a reading-related gift that’s far more meaningful and appreciative. Install a floating wall shelf in the living room, office, or wherever you think works best aesthetically. They’ll come home to find the novels that were littered across their desk beautifully displayed on the walls.

Do Something They Love That You Would Usually Skip: Another great way to show your appreciation is through doing something that you don’t like, but they love. Sacrifice shows that it’s not always about you, and you’re willing to put them first. You may not love your boo’s favorite television show or movie, but fire up your favorite streaming service and throw it on all the same.

Have a Special Dinner: In the evening, you could have a V-Day dinner. It doesn’t matter if you cook their favorite meal or grab takeout from one of their favorite restaurants. What matters is what you say during dinner. It’s a time to open up and bare your soul. Even if it’s not your thing, or if you find communicating your emotions difficult (spoiler: everyone does), because during this one dinner, you’re going to do just that.

Express Your Appreciation: Express how much you appreciate your partner, how you sometimes forget to show your appreciation, and use specific examples. Try writing something out prior if you need the practice. You don’t even need to read it, but the actual act of writing it down will help you collect and organize your thoughts.

Dougherty also suggests giving the actual handwritten, heartfelt love letter to your S.O. She advises to “directly express why you appreciate this person in your life” in it.

An example would be to say something like, “I hope you know how much I love and care for you. I know that sometimes I don’t show you how much I appreciate everything you do for me. You do my laundry without asking, you cook my favorite meal when I’m clearly having a bad day, and you’re always there to listen to my problems. You’re kind, compassionate, and I really am so happy that we found each other. I don’t say this enough, but I appreciate you.”

Plan to Express Gratitude All Year: Then, last but not least, say how you plan to show your appreciation every other day of the year. Rather than having Valentine’s Day as the only time to express your gratitude, think of it as a precursor to how you will show your appreciation every single day.

“In my experience working with couples, I’ve found that the healthiest and most satisfied couples find ways of showing appreciation for their partners every day for even the most mundane of tasks, like feeding the dog or moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer without being asked,” notes Melissa Johnson, PsyD.

“Showing daily gratitude prevents the buildup of resentment, which is toxic for a relationship, while also encouraging a teammate mentality.” It’s also the key to having a great Valentine’s Day, regardless of the trying circumstances, because at the end of the day, it isn’t what you do with your time that matters, but how you enjoy that time together.

If you’re able to remind your sweetheart of what they mean to you, they’ll not only have an incredible Valentine’s Day, but they’ll also have an incredible partner year-round.

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