Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day and marriage

This Valentine’s Day, Give Extravagant Love

What makes the real difference on Valentine's Day and in your marriage? It's extravagant love, which comes first from God.

If you’d known me in high school or college, you could have heard my rant about how Valentine’s Day was a ploy used by greeting card companies, florists, and candy makers to guilt people into purchasing things they didn’t need, all to express the love they could have been expressing 364 other days of the year. I gave versions of this same rant my first several years of marriage as well.

And then I became a marriage and sex blogger.

Valentine’s Day is huuuuge in this world. So many couples celebrate this day and want fresh or practical suggestions on how to commemorate their special love. It’s a great time to speak about how to romance and honor your spouse, because people are listening.

Not to mention that sales of marriage and sex books, affiliate-linked products, and more increase this time of year. That’s just a fact. And on that note…hey, look, a great place to buy lingerie! (And they’re offering 25% off on lingerie and boxers through Valentine’s Day with the code LOVE25.)

Honoring Intimates Logo

Anyway, over the years, I’ve dug myself out of my cynicism, written many posts about Valentine’s Day, and learned to appreciate it as a holiday with origins in a lovely tale about a priest who continued to perform wedding ceremonies despite a ban by the king—because he believed in marriage. Here are those (many) past posts:

Here’s some simple advice.

But today, just a few days before Valentine’s Day, I want to offer simple advice about how to treat this holiday. Actually, it’s not even my advice. It’s ancient advice, with great wisdom. Here it is:

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans, chapter 12, verse 10

That’s from the New Living Translation, and here are some other translations of that same verse:

  • Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (NIV).
  • Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor” (CSB).
  • Be devoted to each other with mutual affection. Excel at showing respect for each other” (ISV).

What is extravagant love?

People often talk about unconditional love, but I prefer the phrase extravagant love. To me that connotes going above and beyond, the same prescription here translated in words like “take delight” and “outdo” and “above yourselves” and “excel.”

On this holiday that focuses on romantic love, maybe it’s a good time to take stock and ask how we’re doing on this one with our spouse. Are we showing them extravagant love? Love that goes above and beyond what we’ve done before, what we think we’re capable or, what we believe they even deserve.

On this holiday that focuses on romantic love, maybe it's a good time to take stock and ask how we're doing on this one with our spouse. Are we showing them extravagant love? via @hotholyhumorous #Valentines #marriage Click To Tweet

But here’s the real core of the matter: You can’t do extravagant love on your own.

You can do extravagant gestures, extravagant gifts, extravagant romance. But day-in, day-out, through-all-life’s-challenges, trying to show extravagant love to your spouse in your power can wear you out.

If you want a really great Valentine’s Day, and marriage, ask yourself what it means to show genuine affection to your spouse and to take delight in honoring them. What would extravagant love look like? And then ask God to pour His love into you so that you can pour it back out to your beloved.

I don’t think I can give better advice than that. Happy Valentine’s to you all!

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How to Make Your Valentine Gift Meaningful

blog post title + illustration of envelope with hearts come out

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 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?

1. Plan.

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.

2. Prioritize.

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.

3. Pursue.

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.

4. Personalize.

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.

E-book sale ad

Do You Have to Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

In two weeks, it’s St. Valentine’s Day — a holiday celebrating romantic love. Given what I write about, this should be my wheelhouse. I should be excitedly touting the beauty of romantic gestures, sex-themed gifts, and marital bliss. And I have. You can find those posts here:

What to Get Your Husband for V-Day

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

Marriage Not Going Great? Go Ahead and Celebrate Valentine’s

7 Things You Should Say to Your Spouse on Valentine’s Day

But I’ve also written about my own view of Valentine’s Day:

Valentine’s Day for the Rest of Us

What I really want:

What I Really Want for Valentine’s Day (Maybe You Do Too)

What men want:

Does He Just Want Sex for Valentine’s Day?

And my belief that we can make this holiday carry more weight than it should:

Is Valentine’s Day Too Much Pressure?

Some of you are like me: You have a billion things going on in your life, and the thought of stopping all that for something extra-special for a holiday designated by other people seems like another to-do you don’t need on your list. Besides, you frankly couldn’t tell anyone just who St. Valentine was anyway or what that cupid baby has to do with anything. (Seriously, little arrow-toting dude, put on some clothes.)

So here’s a question: Do you have to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Is it in the marriage contract somewhere? Does the fact that you are a couple mean you that must do something for this event? Would you be remiss if you breezed through February 14 not giving flowers or candy to your beloved and not even wearing the color red?

Do You Have to Celebrate Valentine's Day with finger puppet man and woman

It depends.

On your spouse.

If this day is important to him or her, reconfigure that to-do list and make Valentine’s Day a priority.

But don’t assume. Because in an interesting conversation with some wives lately, I discovered that most of us didn’t care for a big to-do for Valentine’s Day. We wanted subtler gestures of romance — a quiet evening at home, a single flower, a greeting card, an extended time of physical intimacy, a whispered, “I love you. Happy Valentine’s.”

My husband and I tend to trade greeting cards and a long kiss … and that’s it — what constitutes the entire Valentine’s celebration in my marriage. Which both of us are happy with. We personally prefer to go out for a date on a night on which the restaurants aren’t so crowded or to exchange gifts on a day personally significant to us, like our anniversary.

But if I were a flowers, candy, or jewelry person, my husband should oblige, considering and cherishing the wife he married. Likewise, if my husband considered a proper Valentine’s celebration involved extra-sexy sex, I should oblige, considering and honoring the man I married. It’s simply biblical love to seek the other’s good and to show kindness.

I could write another post about what you can do for Valentine’s Day, but I’ve already written a bunch and it’s all a waste anyway if you don’t know what your own spouse desires and enjoys. So have a conversation and see what they think about this holiday.

While you’re at it, maybe talk about other holidays too. My husband and I evaluated our Christmas experience and decided to make some changes next year, and we’ll be talking soon about how to spend our anniversary, making sure our expectations are reasonably met.

If your spouse does want a bigger to-do, I have all of those resources up there you can consult for gift and activity ideas. Plenty of other marriage websites have ideas as well. And I’m sure your local retailer would love to walk you through some possibilities.

But you might be surprised to find out that you don’t have to do quite as much. Many couples are content to take it easy on this holiday of love and find small ways to celebrate.

That said, never ignore an opportunity in your marriage, whatever the day, to express love to your mate. Make that an ongoing goal.

Reminder: Valentine’s Day is special in that we are launching our podcast that day. Click on the banner below to head to our website and learn more. And mark your calendar to listen that week!

Marriage Not Going Great? Go Ahead and Celebrate Valentine’s.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. (Surely you’ve heard.) It’s the holiday on which many couples celebrate romantic love. But some of you are struggling in your marriage — feeling that the love isn’t all it can or should be.

Especially your sexual intimacy.

You don’t see eye-to-eye on how to pursue the best for your marriage bed. It’s tense. Or maybe at times hostile. And your spouse has racked up a list of selfish acts and sins that frustrate you and make celebrating Valentine’s difficult.

I get it. I really do.

Some of you need to immediately seek help, because things are that bad. And honestly, a few of you are in abusive situations and need to get out. But most of us need to breathe deep, step back, take stock of reality, and remember that this is the person who loves us, whom we love.

Just because you’re facing difficult issues and don’t know how it’s going to work out, you can find things about your husband (or wife) for which you’re grateful. You can see qualities about him that are still appealing, or even sexy. You know that you chose him and he chose you. You made a covenant commitment to each other, and you are still hanging in there.

For months — okay, frankly, years — this described my marriage. It wasn’t fabulous, but we still wanted to be together and we weren’t done yet.

My husband gave me some Valentine’s Day cards in those years. And certainly some chocolate. We needed and appreciated those reminders that we were dedicated to our marriage. To our love.

It’s like 1 Peter 4:8 says: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

Start there: Loving each other deeply. Commit yourselves to remembering and renewing your love. Love itself covers over a lot of sin, hurt, and difficulty. Love can give you the capacity to keep going, to see past the slights and frustrations to the man you married, to see your husband as God sees him.

This scripture has helped me so much in my own life that I’ve chosen it for this week’s marriage memory verse.

Marriage Memory Verse 2-13-16

So go ahead and find ways to celebrate.

Of course, I’m praying that your Valentine’s Day involves some hot, holy, and yeah, humorous sex. But even if you haven’t figured all that out yet, commemorate your love.

Memory Verse Help

Say it aloud. Really, that’s the entire memorization tip for this week.

Why does it matter to say it aloud? Because when speak a verse out loud, you are both thinking about the scripture and hearing it. Your brain processes that as two hits.

Double your effectiveness by reading or saying the scripture aloud.

What I Really Want for Valentine’s Day (Maybe You Do Too)

I’ve mentioned more than once on my blog that I’m not super-big on Valentine’s Day. Maybe it was ruined for me the year a high school boyfriend gave me a dozen roses in a thick glass vase, and two weeks later they all died on the same day. It was such a letdown, especially when I found out how much they cost and that I could have had a long-lasting outfit or a great pair of shoes for that kind of money.

Call me too practical.

But I don’t think I’m unromantic. I enjoy romance! It just doesn’t always look like what other people’s romance looks like. Which makes me think we should extend our definition of romance in our marriages and for Valentine’s.

So what do I really want for Valentine’s Day? And are any of my ideas what you might want from your spouse?

What I Really Want for Valentine's Day (Maybe You Do Too)

A lingering kiss. I’m talking about that long, soft-lipped kiss that says your spouse’s lips are the only ones you ever want to touch. The type of kiss that feels sweet and passionate all at once. The sort of kiss a fairy tale prince or warrior would plant on his beloved when they finally escape certain peril and find one another.

A hand-picked bunch of flowers. Here in Texas, you’d better make sure you don’t pick any bluebonnets, because picking the state flower on public land is a crime. But there are plenty of places where you could likely yank a few naturally growing flowers from the ground or clip some from a bush and bring them home to your honey. Me? I have a weakness for daisies, which always strike me as a cheerful flower.

A slow dance in our bedroom. I love being held in my husband’s arms and swaying in tandem. We don’t need great dance moves or perfect rhythm or even music playing. Sometimes he just takes me in his arms and sings (off-key) while we dance and I swoon.

A sexy greeting card. There are some very clever greeting cards out there for spouses to exchange, and quite a few of them are flirty, suggestive, or even seductive. I like the idea of my husband picking out the perfect card to say “I want you always…starting right here and now.”

A sightseeing excursion. We’ve done dinner and/or a movie plenty. But my best memories with my husband are when we’ve traveled or gone to museums or visited local attractions. We walk hand-in-hand, see interesting sights, and enjoy great discussions. We spend quality time together. And we don’t do it often enough.

A handwritten letter or poem. My favorite gift ever from my husband is a poem he wrote for my birthday one year. Poetically speaking, it’s bad. But in terms of my intimacy with him, it’s beautiful and unforgettable. He stepped way out of his comfort zone to write something for me he knew I’d like. And if he wants to do something like that every decade or so, that would be just fine with me.

A day in bed. Yes, an entire day that we spend in bed together. We could hole ourselves up in our bedroom and do everything from the cushy, cozy spot of our mattress: Watch TV or movies, eat snacks and meals, read books, have conversations, take an afternoon nap, and — oh yeah — get physically intimate. Maybe more than once.

Are any of these are your wish list? What other ideas would you love for your spouse to gift you with this Valentine’s Day?

And here are some other ideas from previous posts:

What to Get Your Husband for V-Day
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
Valentine’s Day for the Rest of Us