If I didn’t know better, I’d think the first line of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities was actually about couples and Valentine’s Day: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
Yep, St. Valentine’s Day is less than a month away — the holiday that some spouses anticipate with excitement, and others dread with exasperation.
Regardless of how you approach it, I suspect you come with your own set of expectations. Maybe they are high expectations that cannot possibly be fulfilled, and maybe they are low expectations that your frustration turns into a self-fulfilled prophecy. But most of us fall somewhere in between.
I’ve written about Valentine’s Day so many times that I wondered what I could possibly say to make this holiday better for married couples. But when I asked members of my closed Facebook community what I should cover, a lot of answers boiled down to wanting something really meaningful.
So how can you give a meaningful gift to your spouse? What will make this the Valentine’s Day s/he will always remember?
You might have wondered why I’m writing this post nearly a month before Valentine’s Day. But you may need time to brainstorm ideas, line up a babysitter (and perhaps a back-up babysitter), make a reservation, and/or purchase or make any necessary supplies.
Almost every gift I can think of that a friend happily told me about her husband getting her involved planning on his part. For example, a getaway weekend he had to book ahead of time, bidding on eBay for a treasured item from her childhood, breakfast in bed made by hubby and the children, the love letter he wrote.
As Benjamin Franklin purportedly said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Instead, plan ahead.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: I don’t care if this holiday means absolutely nothing to you or you think it’s supremely stupid — if it’s important to your spouse, you need to make something happen. Because that’s love, people. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).
That also means that you must prioritize your time. Clear your calendar to make time with your spouse. You can’t fully connect with your spouse if you can’t disconnect from the other stuff pulling you apart.You can't fully connect with your spouse if you can't disconnect from the other stuff pulling you apart. Click To Tweet
If you can’t celebrate on Valentine’s Day, pick another day around the same time. But figure out when you can carve out time to be together and then make that happen.
One reader commented that she wanted “almost like a ‘take me back to our honeymoon days’ kind of post. I feel so overwhelmed with responsibility in life I sometimes forget the exciting and fun side of things.” I know she’s not alone.
Remember when you were falling in love? When you first held hands or felt that flicker of this could be the one? Remember how excited you were just to be together?
Scientifically speaking, those fluttery feelings involved some brain chemicals that aren’t at the same levels now after being so familiar with one another. But the beauty of our brains is that we can renew those feelings by introducing special moments and pairing them with our spouse. Essentially, you need the attitude that you’re still pursuing your spouse.
Romantic pursuit can be passionate or playful. It can make you burst out in laughter, weep with deep emotion, or simply savor the moments. It can be grand gestures or cozy comfort. It’s whatever romance means to you and your beloved.
But regardless of what form it takes, pursuing your spouse doesn’t simply mark off the box of “I’m married to you” or “I thought of you.” It wholeheartedly communicates “I love you, I want you, and I’d do it all over again.” You’ll know it’s more meaningful when your gift conveys that message.
If my husband paid attention to all the statements that women love getting flowers, he’d miss the mark. It’s not that I don’t like getting flowers — which is nice — but it’s not all that meaningful to me. Other gifts have meant far more to me, like when my husband saw me admire a piece of art in a store and it showed up as my gift at the next holiday. He paid attention to what I really like.
Likewise, you have to personalize your gift to your spouse. I’ve given a lot of gift ideas in the past, but you have to look at such lists with knowledge of the person you’re married to:
13 Sexy Valentine’s Gifts from Your Grocery Store
7 Sexy Valentine’s Gifts You Can Make
“Go Big” Valentine’s Gifts for Your Spouse
8 Cool Valentine’s Gifts for Your Hot Hubby
8 Sweet Valentine’s Gifts for Your Spicy Wife
Think about previous gifts or experiences your spouse has had. When did you see your spouse light up? What fond memory have they recounted many times over? What interests, talents, and dreams does your spouse have? How can your gift honor the person they are?
Those are my four tips for giving a meaningful gift: Plan, Prioritize, Pursue, and Personalize.
I can’t leave without mentioning that sex should be very meaningful in your marriage. And right now both of my books, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage and Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, have sales right now on the ebook. Only $2.99! This is a great time to get one or both and get ideas for improving the sex in your marriage, and making sure your Valentine’s Day is meaningfully intimate as well.
14 thoughts on “How to Make Your Valentine Gift Meaningful”
I love your blog! Can’t believe I haven’t seen it before. I have a gift idea to share. My hubby gave me a sketch of my dress by Dreamlines. This would be so perfect for Valentines. Seriously so excited to have found you. Love all your topics. Yay!
Yes, where have you been, Chelle? We’ve just been waiting on you to get this party started. 😉 And I just looked up Dreamlines. Wow, that’s cool!
Chelle, I stumbled onto this blog, quite literally, except there are no “stumbles” like that, in the Father. He knew, and knows, what I need and what I like. This, and there is one other site I similarly discovered by “chance”. It’s a good place.
Complicating the whole thing this year is that valentines day is also Ash Wednesday. Even better is that easter is April fools!!
Wow. What a year! I had seen the Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s conundrum, but I didn’t know about Easter yet.
This us actually a point of stress for me in my marriage, but for different reasons.
My wife is the kind of person who sees value in the exchanging of gifts on all,of the typical holidays and, on occasion, the “I was thinking about you, and…” moments. Like most people, she enjoys being on both the giving & receiving ends of that spectrum, and if I’m being totally transparent…it’s not hard to please her. She has simple, inexpensive tastes (for the most part), communicates easily about her preferences, and is always gracious about anything the receives.
Her problem is…me. Again…in the interest of total transparency…I don’t want her to buy me anything. Valentine’s Day…birthday…anniversary…Christmas…whatever – the routine is always the same: a back-and-forth “what do you want for (insert occasion here)? / “Nothing; please don’t buy me anything.”
This always leads into a disagreement…complete with bouts of uncomfortable silence broke; up only by small instances of odd-fitting small talk.
To most, the normal response to this would be, “Why be difficult? Tell her something you planned on buying for yourself and make it easy on her, you, and your marriage!” On the surface, it’s that easy.
But deeper, it gets more complicated for me. I’m not trying to be difficult with her. I genuinely don’t want her to spend the time, money or effort to go out and buy me, well, anything. I can’t explain it. Worse, I can’t get her to believe it.
In the past, she’s gone against my wishes…and it dented our marriage. One year for my birthday…despite the above explanation…she purchased some range time for me at a local archery range via Groupon (I’d recently purchased a new bow and hadn’t had much opportunity to break it in). Like most things, the groupon had an expiration date and she made that clear when she presented it to me. Again…transparency…I purposely let the groupon expire. In part, because I had no time to use it (considerable commute from our house to the range & it was only good during a period of time where work had to take priority over archery). But…I used that as a teaching moment for her…to show her that I was resolved in my stance that I didn’t want anything for my birthday…that when anyone (including your husband) says they do not want something…even if it’s just a gift…you should respect that without question.
I know that receiving thoughtful gifts is important to her, so I compromise and oblige. I also acknowledge that reciprocating is important to her. Unfortunately for her, being on the receiving end makes me woefully uncomfortable (always has) and, at least when it comes to giving gifts to me, my feelings on the matter outweigh her desire to reciprocate. Yet…every occasion, we go thru the same routine.
I know most here will say I’m in the wrong. I just don’t understand how not wanting something for legitimate reasons makes you “wrong.”
So somewhere in here is a good compromise. Because the impression I get is that she is not believing that gifts are not your love language, because that’s clearly her love language and giving and receiving gifts makes her feel loved and loving. However, gifts would probably be last on your list, and additionally there’s something about getting them that actually withdraws from your love bank, so to speak. Yes, she needs to understand and respect that, but you also need to be able to receive a few gifts.
Let me explain my own particular situation that (perhaps) helps me identify with your scenario. I grew up in a family where appreciation and praise was generously given. We were 100% Words of Affirmation people. Then, I married a man who hates getting compliments. It’s not just that words of affirmation are his least favorite love language; there’s some background for why that is that isn’t my story to tell. However, it has taken me years to figure out how to handle those moments when my longing is to lavish him with praise to express my deep love for him. I have backed off a lot and figured out how to say enough to express what I need to say without making him uncomfortable. Meanwhile, he has learned that I’m going to go there sometimes anyway, because it’s my instinct, and he accepts those moments with grace now.
I’d encourage you not to use those gift situations as “teaching moments.” Rather, express what she could do for you instead of the gifts. Give her an alternative that expresses love to you. Help her understand how to express her love for you in a way that matters to you.
Thanks for the perspective, J…it’s appreciated.
It’s funny that you mentioned the love languages things because she believes in the concept very much and swears I have a sixth one that is of yet unnamed. Personally, I haven’t bought in yet, but I’ve read about them.
You’re right…I’m clearly not a gifts person and am unlikely to ever be.
Like your husband, compliments/recognition makes me cringe (I’ve turned down awards and recognition at work because I’m paid to perform at a high level; I don’t want or need extra acknowledgement for what I should be doing to begin with).
While I do I spend time at home with my family, I’m increasingly finding myself preferring to spend time alone.
I’m fine with touch, but only for very short amounts of time (I seem to get easily annoyed with it).
She seems to have settled on my being a (direct quote) “…different version of Acts of service” because I primarily work from home and run the daily household stuff (make dinner, wash/dry/gold clothes, pay bills, etc. in between project work/calls/etc.). She believes this is how I show her I love her. Truthfully, though, I’ve been doing these things and more since I moved away from home, and very frankly… if I didn’t do them…they wouldn’t ever get done.
I do know she appreciates those things and doesn’t demand that I do it…so she may be right because if she didn’t appreciate it or if she just came to expect it, then I’d be the only one under our roof with clean clothes, homemade dinners, good credit, etc. still, though…it’s not pure reasoning…and that may be as well as I can do.
So at the risk of coming across poorly here, what are you doing to show your wife that you love her? Your descriptions make it sound like you’ve rebuffed her love language, don’t want to be around her, would do tasks even if she wasn’t there, and get annoyed with touch. I am not a licensed counselor, but based on my background and training (I do have a master’s in counseling, but didn’t pursue licensure), I would be asking where all this is coming from. Because I sense that something else is at play here. Perhaps some baggage from before marriage? I don’t know, and I’m really not trying to do armchair psychology (which can be so annoying), but I want your marriage to thrive so I’m shooting straight with you on asking yourself some tough questions. Anyway, also praying for you and your wife. Many blessings!
I’m kind of the same way, I don’t think my spouse needs to make a fuss when it comes to gift giving toward me.
We chatted about this as we don’t really want to minimize events like Anniversaries, Christmas gifts and Birthdays and of course Valentine’s (box of dark chocolate and a card and maybe a watch a romantic/comedy or enjoy a candle lite dinner which we still do for Valentine’s), but we also don’t want to clutter up the house or buy something we may not need as it can create a certain awkwardness.
It is a little easier now that our kids are grown,, so this last year we waited for discounted airline tickets to Hawaii to appear, used a companion coupon during the less busy offseason and got discounted condo rates.
The process from the time we decided to consolidate the gift giving, to the time we purchased the ticket to the time we took the trip was about 6 months.. The Anticipation from start up to the trip stimulated our minds, the trip was fun of course and then the memory of the trip stays with us.
All of which is about the same price we spend on everything we use to purchase for each other
I’ve been teasing my husband for three years that if I ever have to go in and clean his bathroom for him, he has to take me out for filet mignon and an adult beverage. Well, he just took me out for those, for my recent birthday, of his own volition! I’m not a big Valentine’s Day person, but I like my birthday celebrated. As you say – show that you know your spouse.
Valentine’s Day 2011, anything that could go wrong did go wrong. Valentine’s Day 2017, anything that could go right did go right. It was a second honeymoon. The worst, and the best, respectively.
Love language does have a lot to do with it. I’m a pretty sentimental guy, with deep feelings and strong convictions, as she does. She is not nearly as sentimental as me, with some huge exceptions. She would describe herself as the opposite of touchy feely, but when that sentimental side does come out, it dwarfs mine.
Makes life interesting, no? Valentine’s Day 2018 should be interesting, and good, too, though I won’t be heartbroken if 2017 isn’t equalled. We’re a long way from 2011. Thankfully.
Thanks for getting thisbout early. I am usually guilty of not planning because while Vday is ok its not my favorite mostly cuz I get hammered at Christmas with 2 birthdays on top of it. Anyway appreciate the early reminder. We actually started talking about the day yestrday. Thanks
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