Valentine’s Day. Love it, hate it, most likely you have some strong opinions about it. I think we need to talk about the holiday that gets a lot of heat, and in my opinion is the most misunderstood. Granted, you may totally disagree with me, and that’s ok ( I promise I won’t shame you into celebrating), but let me have a few minutes of your time to make the case for why Valentine’s Day might be worth celebrating.

Close your eyes and think about February 14th, what comes to mind?

Cheap stuffed animals, overpriced boxes of waxy chocolate, stupidly expensive jewelry, or a bouquet of flowers that will cost more than a modest dinner out?

If that’s where your mind went, then congrats- you’re in great company. a 2017 survey showed that 48% of US adults describe Valentine’s Day as “overrated”, and I get it, the commercial aspects of the holiday can be underwhelming and unrealistic.

The important piece of Valentine’s Day has nothing to with any of those things (unless of course it’s important to you and your partner).

The reason, celebrating Valentine’s Day can be an important part of maintaining and strengthening your relationship is because it can become what Dr. John Gottman of the The Gottman Institute calls a “ritual of connection”.

What is a ritual of connection? Simply put, it’s when we set up time out of our daily routine that we can rely on connecting with our partner and create shared meaning within our relationship. These can occur in all different ways, from daily things like a cup of coffee together in the morning, to a weekly dinner, to how we celebrate holidays together.

Yes, we’ve all heard the “I don’t need someone to tell me when to celebrate my relationship” and in theory, that’s true. But between, work, school, soccer practice, family events, illness, etc., how often are you *really* making the effort to connect? Sometimes, a little outside reminder (and a ridiculous amount of pink and red hearts) can motivate us to actually do something extra. To give ourselves and our partners time to reflect on why we love them. To create a ritual out of loving each other and caring for our relationship.

Hate dinner and a movie?

Great, grab a picnic basket and head for the river. Don’t want to spend $10 on a paper card? No problem, draw a funny picture with a heartfelt note on it for your partner and spend $10 on tacos. Does your partner hate chocolate? Plan on cooking a dessert you both enjoy together ( fully clothed… or not ). The possibilities are endless, and planning for the holiday can give you the added bonus of talking about how you each prefer to give and receive love.

At the end of the day, every relationship can benefit from some additional connection, celebration, and fun. The holiday is just a reminder; it’s up to you to make it into something meaningful.

About the author: Yasmine Binghalib is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Relationship Specialist in Northern California. She runs private practice and serves couples and individual clients all around California. 

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