Depending on your relationship status, Valentine’s Day can be exciting, stressful, lonely, or a last ditch effort to re-energize your relationship. Valentine’s Day can be a great way for couples to be intentional about their relationship and deepening their connection, but it’s no secret that many of us have frequently struggled with how commercialized the holiday has become and the unrealistic expectations that movies and the media have given us. Furthermore, why should we celebrate our love just one day a year?

This Valentine’s Day will be different than others due to the pandemic so why not try to show your love in more unique – and probably less expensive! – ways. Let’s take the stereotypical, expensive, high stress version of the day off the table and try something new!

Here are 5 thing you can give your partner on Valentine’s Day instead of chocolate, flowers or jewelry:

1. Your Undivided Attention

Yes, the Pandemic has brought us all physically closer together. But for many households, it’s also brought us closer to our screens than to our partners. There’s a tendency for many in the workforce to feel pressure to be “always on,” justifying their time working from home. Also, the TV has become an additional family member in the house. Hey, I don’t blame you – Netflix has a lot of great content these days! But what’s the point of giving your partner a physical gift if you’re on your phone 10 minutes after he/she opens it? Instead, give the gift of your undivided attention. Try suggesting to your partner that you go device-less for the day.

2. Words of Affirmation and Appreciation

Our partners do so much for us – even when we don’t realize it. This Valentine’s Day, think of a creative way you can use words of affirmation to express to your partner in clear terms how much you appreciate them. Often, we think internally about how much we love and appreciate our partners, but we forget how important it is to actually speak the words out loud so our partners feel seen! Write a heartfelt note, make a book of the things you’re grateful for about your partner, record them a sweet video thanking them. A few words will go a long way.

3. A Shared Experience

We spent so much time locked in our homes this year – with our cities slowly opening back up, it’s a great time to have an adventure to celebrate your love! You remember experiences more vividly than physical gifts so do something that will give you two a story to share with your friends and family – but more importantly that you can reminisce about with each other.

4. A Love Song

This one sounds a little intimidating if you’re not musically inclined. I actually don’t mean you have to write your own epic love song. Actually, to the contrary, there are SO many amazing love songs out there that could perfectly describe your relationship. Why not set up a romantic scene in the backyard and ask your partner to slow dance to “your song.”

5. Acts of Service

What is something your partner is ALWAYS asking you to do and you never quite get around to? Do it this weekend! Now, am I promoting procrastination? Definitely not – we should always be listening to our partners with intent and compassion. But make it clear to your partner that you have heard them and you realize this task – whether it be cleaning the gutters, finally clearing out the junk in the basement, or even just taking them to the salsa dancing class they’ve been daydreaming about for months – is important to them.

Dr. Brittany Woolford