As Valentine’s Day approaches, we see a proliferation of cards, teddies, heart-shaped boxes and red roses in the shops. While there is nothing wrong in blowing a few quid on a pink-bowed teddy holding a box of chocolates for your loved one, sometimes I have heard debates between those who see Valentine’s Day as a special occasion to celebrate love and romance, and a cynical opportunity for commercial exploitation. This blogpost is about finding a space somewhere between these two extremes. It is of course possible to have a special day to celebrate your love, without giving money to large corporations, and without buying into a one-size-fits-all model of love and romance. Drawing on Chapman’s Five Love Languages, you can tailor a Valentine’s Day gesture that will make your significant other feel really loved.
You can read more about Five Love Languages here. The idea is, we all have slightly different preferences about how we express love and usually the way we express it is the way we like to receive it. Chapman has grouped these different ways into five categories. Here are our suggestions for five ways to make a special Valentine’s Day that will tap into your darling’s preferred love language.
Some people find the most meaningful expression of love to be words. If your partner is like this then the card with the most meaningful inscription will really touch them. Rather than buy a card with a ready-written poem, you could write your own inscription. If you are of a poetic bent, then write your own poem – if it is from the heart your partner will treasure it. Equally effective, and perhaps easier, is a short list of the reasons why you love them. To increase the impact, you could read it out to your loved one in person, or even make a video on your phone for them to keep.
For some, physical touch is the most important love language: hugs and cuddles, hand-holding or a foot-rub are a very direct expression of love and affection. If your relationship is sexually oriented at the moment, you might want to offer a very slow sensuous massage before bed and see where that leads. On the other hand, people can feel pressurised to have amazing sex on Valentine’s Day, so you may prefer to cuddle up on the sofa and just watch your favourite movie together.
Acts of Service
While some people need to hear words of love, others feel that actions speak louder than words. Is there some job around the house that you both keep putting off? If your darling is all about acts of service, they will appreciate the wonderful surprise when you show them that you have cleaned that oven or painted that porch. Although doing jobs for people may not feel romantic, if acts of service is their love language, they will truly appreciate your efforts. If no particular task springs to mind, try doing something for them that they usually do for you: whether it’s the weekly shop, cooking the tea, or digging the garden.
Valentine’s Day presents will be welcomed by those for whom gifts are the preferred love language. They will be even more appreciated, though, if the gift shows thought and care. So instead of choosing the typical red roses or heart shaped chocolates, try and find a gift that you know will be specially liked by your loved one. There is nothing wrong with flowers and sweets, but if you know that their favourite flowers are irises instead of roses, or their favourite sweets are haribos, then those will be especially meaningful gifts. Some people feel vouchers are impersonal, but a voucher to a shop that you know is a particular favourite shows more thought than the ready packed Valentine’s gifts produced every year.
In our busy lives it can be so difficult to find time to spend with our loved ones. Yet for some, Quality Time together is the most important thing. If that is what your darling likes, then they will really cherish a special meal together at home, or perhaps a trip to a gallery or a country walk together. The time you spend together doesn’t need to cost anything at all, but the fact that you have arranged your diaries to take that time out, and for it to be your special together time, with phones switched off, and no interruptions allowed, will make your partner feel truly loved.