Valentine’s Day holds a lot of weight for many couples. The expectations and pressure that come with this holiday dedicated to love leads couples to focus on the “perfect” way to shower their partners with romance. While gifting roses and chocolate covered strawberries are lovely romantic gestures, discovering deeper sources of intimacy and connection in your partnership this Valentine’s Day might be one of the greatest gifts you can give to your relationship. This post offers 4 suggestions to connect with your partner in deeper ways.
Reflect on the Positive Aspects of the Relationship
It’s important to take the time to acknowledge and celebrate all the positive aspects of your relationship. Showing gratitude for all the small and big ways that you and your partner contribute to your relationship prevents you from taking each other for granted.
Consider:In what ways do I enhance our relationship? Be specific. In what ways does my partner enhance our relationship? Be specific. What parts of our relationship do my partner and I typically excel at? What was a recent relational issue that we handled well? What is it about each of us individually and as a couple that makes these successes possible?
What answers did you have in common? Which of your partner’s answers surprised you? Can you thank yourselves and each other for the ways that you contribute to your relationship?
Explore Each Other’s Love Languages
Everyone has a preferred way to show and receive love; that is, we all speak different love languages. Gary Chapman, the author of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, writes, “We tend to speak our primary love language, and we become confused when our [partner] does not understand what we are communicating. We are expressing our love, but the message does not come through because we are speaking what, to them, is a foreign language.” The goal is to understand each other’s love languages and learn to express love in your partner’s language.
Chapman highlights that there are 5 Basic Love Languages:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
This Valentine’s Day, consider taking the Love Language Quiz with your partner. If you’d like to explore the concept of love languages a little deeper, consider reading The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lastsby Gary Chapman with your partner.
Ignite the Spark: Open up Communication about Your Sexual Desires
Sexual intimacy can be one of the most vulnerable experiences between partners. Partners may hold back on expressing their sexual desires and needs for a variety of reasons. Consider reflecting on your sexual needs and desires and exploring this with your partner. Remember that sexual intimacy is a mutual experience, and each partners’ preferences and vulnerabilities must be validated.
4 Ways to Talk about Sexual Desires:
“It really turns me on when you/we/I…”
“It would feel really good if you/we/I… Can I show you?”
“I’ve been thinking a lot about … Is this something we can try together?”
“If I’m not feeling particularly sexual, how can I communicate this to you in a way that doesn’t make you feel unwanted/unloved?”
Valentine’s Day can bring on pressures and expectations around what sexual intimacy should look like. Put the “shoulds” aside, and think about what would feel satisfying to you and your partner. This invites you to think about mutual pleasure and satisfaction, rather than trying to fit into an external sexual script. To discover more about intimacy in long-term relationships, consider reading Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel.
Get to Know Your Partner’s Inner World
We are individuals before we are partners. Sometimes our individuality (e.g. values, preferences, interests, etc.) is neglected in the context of our relationships. How can you invite your partner into your inner world and allow them to know you in new ways?
3 Suggestions to Invite Your Partner in Your Inner World:
- YouTube Swap. Each of you get to pick a few YouTube videos (10 minutes or less) on different topics or forms of entertainment that interest you (e.g. comedy sketch, Ted Talk, sports clip, etc.). Watch each video together, switching between yours and theirs. Feel free to discuss why you chose the videos you did, or enjoy the videos without talking.
- Plan your own dream date. Take your partner on a date that feels satisfying and exciting to you.
- Download the Gottman Card Decks App. This app suggests meaningful questions for partners to ask each other on a variety of topics, in order to get to know each other in deeper ways.