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This Valentine’s Day, Let Love Stand a Chance

While Valentine’s Day might be a kitschy, Hallmark holiday besieged by expectations of flowers, candy, and jewelry, it can also serve as a much-needed catalyst for reviving some of the magic in your marriage. We spoke with Family and Marriage Therapist Dawn Rike from Springs of Joy, Inc., who offered these tips for catapulting the spirit of Valentine’s Day into little gestures to make your union last a lifetime:

1. You’re Dino-mite!
As your children address pun-ny valentines to their classmates, do the same for your spouse””either by leaving them a sweet Post-It note on the bathroom mirror or through an unexpected text message. “We get into patterns of focusing on all the negatives until we can see no positives,” Rike said. “That hastens the disillusionment of relationships, so one simple thing is to invite couples to think of something positive about their partner to try and redirect that thought process””even if it’s just admitting ”˜Well, he still brushes his teeth.’ You have to start somewhere!”

2. Make ”˜Em Laugh.
Rike believes it takes six to seven years for couples to fully begin accepting one another’s differences, so it’s especially important to cultivate the marriage in those early years. In their younger days, Rike would playfully dump a mug of cold water on her husband while he was in the shower; it would startle him, but then they would laugh about it together for long afterwards. Another light-hearted effort we like is from a woman who put down a trail of Hershey Kisses around her home with a note at the end saying “Now that I’ve kissed the ground you walked on”¦” The general idea is not to make a big show out of Valentine’s Day with a fancy dinner and an expensive gift, but to instead create meaningful memories that link together in an upward spiral of companionship.

3. A Minute for Eternity.
It can be pretty challenging finding the time for romance between children, work, and picking up the dry-cleaning, but Rike notes that even a second or two of truly connecting with your spouse on a level beyond mundane realities can completely change the dynamic. “Greet each other warmly,” she said. “Meet them at the door for a full 10-second kiss.” For Rike, the year she and her husband left their 8-year-old son in charge of his little sister while they snuck down to the basement for milkshakes and french fries was her most memorable Valentine’s Day celebration. “It was just 25 minutes, but it was the thought that mattered,” she said.

4. Give Thanks.
Rike has been wed for nearly 35 years, but she’s experienced her fair share of frustrating, breaking-point moments in her own marriage as well. Her husband’s inability to tuck in his kitchen chair after removing his shoes was, for example, a source of constant annoyance for her””until she met an elderly woman whose deceased husband used to do the same thing. “Now, I really miss that misplaced chair,” the woman told Rike, who soon realized she needed to let go off the insignificant things and to focus on what really matters. “I still have him; he’s still here,” she mused. “Yes, the chair’s out again, but it only takes me five seconds to put it back.”

What are your favorite Valentine’s Day rituals? Share them with us on our Facebook page:

“Let Love Stand a Chance” by Charles Bradley