Valentine's Day...in July?

Alisa Grace - February 5, 2019

Dear CMR,

Valentine's Day is coming up soon and I really want to make it meaningful for my wife this year. Can you give me some advice? What should I do?

Signed,

Wann-be Cupid


Dear Cupid,

If you really want to make your beloved’s Valentine’s Day more meaningful, here is my advice: It’s not what happens on February 14th that is the key, but instead what you say and do on the other 364 days that makes it a special day for your relationship.

It is on these other days that you should focus your efforts on building up your relationship, in small ways and big ways, where this fun and romantic celebration on one night a year becomes the culmination of these efforts.

Marital expert Dr. John Gottman believes that positive, yet seemingly insignificant interactions are vitally important to our relationships.  He says, “Never get tired of doing little things for your partner.  Sometimes those little things occupy the biggest part of their heart.

Marital expert Dr. John Gottman...says, "Never get tired of doing little things for your partner. Sometimes those little things occupy the biggest part of their heart."

Now I’m not saying that celebrating special days like Valentine's, birthdays and anniversaries with a fancy dinner, an expensive gift, or a trip-of-a-lifetime won’t be appreciated and valued – I’m sure it would!  I’m just saying that if that’s all you do, it’s not enough.

Each positive thing you do in your relationship throughout the year works to increase your attachment, romance, and intimacy with each other, thus making Valentine’s Day a truly memorable day for her no matter how you celebrate.

I’ll give you a personal example: I married a cool but sometimes very goofy man.

Just last week we were reading quietly on the patio in our backyard when he suddenly looked up at me over the top of his book, smiled and said, “I’m glad I married ya, kid.” Then he promptly went right back to reading without skipping a beat. He proceeded to repeat this silly scenario two more times over the next half hour of reading.  Each time I just shook my head, laughed out loud and replied, “Me, too, buddy.”

Obviously, the earth didn’t shake and fireworks didn’t go off in my mind the moment he said it. By itself, it was not a terribly noteworthy or even romantic event. But something important did happen at that moment; something much more profound and life-shaping for me.

When you put this somewhat trivial comment together with all the other small kindnesses he shows to me day after day, over time those small, insignificant things build up into a very significant aspect of what keeps our connection strong, our affection for each other sweet and our relationship meaningful to us both. Each time he says or does little playful, sweet things like this, it makes my love for him take root a little more deeply because it communicates something powerful to me, something much more than just the words that were spoken. Each instance confirms in me that “I am loved by him, I am wanted by him, and I am cherished by him.” Now that’s noteworthy and romantic.

When you put this somewhat trivial comment together with all the other small kindnesses he shows to me day after day, over time those small, insignificant things build up into a very significant aspect of what keeps our connection strong, our affection for each other sweet and our relationship meaningful to us both.

Proverbs 25:11 says, “The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry….” So is the right action at the right time.  Not a bad Valentine’s Day gift for her!

So when someone asks what the secret is to make a Valentine's Day memorable, this is one of the more powerful keys: it is the small thoughtful things done often. It’s not brain surgery. It doesn’t take a big paradigm shift in your relationship. But it does take time and effort. A strong, vibrant relationship is built not on the big things, but on a million positive little things. It’s the small things done often that make the biggest difference.

A strong, vibrant relationship is built not on the big things, but on a million positive little things. It’s the small things done often that make the biggest difference.

So when it comes to Valentine's Day, think marathon, not a sprint. Think May, June, July, not just February. And never get tired of doing (or saying) those small things to your partner, even if they’re somewhat goofy. Because sometimes those little things will occupy the biggest part of their heart.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” – Galatians 6:9 (NLT)


Alisa Grace

Alisa Grace ('92) serves as the co-director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships where she also co-teaches a class called "Christian Perspectives on Marriage and Relationships." While she speaks and blogs regularly on topics such as dating relationships, marriage, and love, she also loves mentoring younger women and newly married couples, speaking at retreats and providing premarital counseling. Alisa and her husband, Chris, have been married over 30 years and have three wonderful children: Drew and his wife Julia, Natalie and her husband Neil, and their unexpected blessing, Caroline. 


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