published Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Valentine's Day can expose fault lines in relationship

Valentine's Day can expose feelings of irritation and unmet expectations.

"A friend of mine left her husband his Valentine card in the morning," said Carolyn Majestic. "Later in the evening, she was still waiting on her card from him. At about 10 p.m. he told her to get in the car. They were going to Walmart. He took her to the card aisle, pulled out a Valentine 'to my wife' card, handed it to her and told her to read it. When she was done, he put the card back and drove her back home.

"The following year, she left her card for him on his dresser. When she came home that night, the card she gave her husband was on her dresser. He had taken the card, crossed out his name, put in hers and wrote, 'Me too.' He crossed out her name and signed his in its place. She went out to the family room where he was sitting on the couch and asked him what this was about.

Celebrate Your Sweetie

• Get up extra early, watch the sunrise, then make breakfast together and eat it in bed. If you aren't an early morning person, plan a sunset picnic or a midnight breakfast

• Plan a date around all of your spouse's favorite things in life: food, hobbies, talents, movies and music.

• Have an "everything's chocolate" date. Melt chocolate almond bark and dip fruit, marshmallows, pretzels or whatever else sounds good then feed it to each other.

• Write a poem using your spouse's name as an acrostic.

• Send your spouse on a scavenger hunt with one clue leading to another and ultimately to you at a secluded location for a romantic picnic dinner. Make sure you put the clues in an inconspicuous place so someone else doesn't walk off with them, and don't forget your cell phones just in case your sweetie gets lost.

"He replied, 'I couldn't say it any better than that.' She ripped up the card and told him he could sleep on the couch that night. Believe it or not, they have been married almost 43 years and actually have a great marriage."

Valentine's Day has the potential to be interesting, especially if one spouse expects gifts and the other doesn't believe in the commercialization of the day.

Instead of getting caught up in a debate, perhaps now is the time to commit to an intentional year-round celebration of your relationship.

Clearly, this would require some creativity, but think about the fun you could have coming up with mystery dates and ways to celebrate your love for your mate.

For those of you who don't have a creative bone in your body, here are a few ideas to get you started.

If you still have trouble getting into the swing of things, you can find lots of great date ideas at niftydateideas.com.

If you are intentional about celebrating your mate all year long, then Valentine's Day will be just one more opportunity to say "I love you" in a special way.

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