6 Survival Tips for Valentine’s Day (and Every Day)

Here are six strategies for surviving Valentine’s Day and even making it a positive experience.

Communicate expectations.

Don’t get all worked up worrying about what your partner is expecting or that you’ll disappoint. Be direct. Say “I’d like to do something special, like go out for a nice dinner. What about you?” That doesn’t make the day any less romantic. You are both much more likely to be happy if you know what your partner likes and wants.

Make it genuine and personal.

A simple handwritten note is much more than a dozen long-stemmed red roses. It’s a common misconception that the more expensive the gift, the more meaningful it is. Jewelry is wonderful, but a gift from the heart is so much better than one from Mastercard. Write your partner a poem or a song, or make a coupon that he or she can redeem for a special day (or activity) in the future.

Make it “touching.

” Saying “I love you” is nice, but kissing, holding and cuddling can be even nicer. You may not be into effusive public displays of affection, but remember that everyone responds to — and needs — a partner’s loving touch. Merely making a date to watch a movie on the couch can be a great Valentine’s Day activity. Pick a romantic comedy, make a fire (or some romantic equivalent) and snuggle up — or at least hold hands.

Fill a need.

If mushy romanticism isn’t your thing, come up with something your partner really needs. Get his car detailed. Replace her beat-up briefcase. That kind of thoughtfulness is a turn-on and shows you really know and care about your partner. How you give the gift counts almost as much as what you give. Slip at least a card under the  pillow before they go to bed the night before. Or he could send them on a mini-scavenger hunt around the house, with fun (and sexy) clues along the way.

Give the gift of time.

Don’t think of Valentine’s Day as a holiday created to sell chocolates and flowers. Consider it a day to spend quality time with your loved one. What you do could be something as simple as ordering in a pizza and playing cards or as elaborate as dressing up and going out dancing.

Talk it up.

Want to know the most romantic thing you can do with your partner on Valentine’s Day? Have a 10-minute (or longer) conversation about anything besides work, money, chores or kids. My long-term marriage study found that this “10 Minute Rule,” practiced daily, increases intimacy and happiness between couples.