The most important foundation of happy, healthy, beautiful partnerships is deeply valuing both our partners and ourselves.
Yet there’s no denying that Valentine’s Day can be tough to avoid, from right after Christmas up to February 14th.
Its consider it the quintessential holiday of love, while its opposers call it a “Hallmark holiday” and critique its undue “pressure to be romantic” and commercial focus.
On Urban Dictionary, you can find a more positive take on the stereotypes of this February holiday and its alternative.
Here at Erosscia, we don’t spend time arguing about which holiday is better because they are not mutually exclusive!
Instead, we take a different tack: Couples and singles are equally wonderful and deserving of pleasure.
And if you are currently partnered up, you know the root of most conflicts cannot be solved by a bouquet of roses (as beautiful as they are).
So how can you work to create a loving, sustainable relationship for every day—not just that famous February day? Here are a few of our favorite, expert-approved tips:
Say thank you
Speaking of holidays, gratitude is not just for Thanksgiving! Giving thanks makes us happier not only in our romantic relationships, but in our connections with friends, family and ourselves.
How often do you thank your partner for the little things they do that make your life together easy and joyful?
Whether that’s making your morning coffee, unloading the dishwasher, or staying up late to help you proofread a work assignment (speaking from personal experience here), make sure your partner knows how much you love and appreciate what they give in the relationship.
It’s nice to give and get gifts every once in a while, as those of us who celebrate Valentine’s or Galentine’s Day know. But your gratitude doesn’t have to manifest as a physical gift; it can be a sincere “Thank you” or something sexier that starts with a long, deep kiss.
Communicate with your Partner
Communication is tuning into your inner desires, setting healthy priorities for your relationship, and making the effort to consistently connect and reconnect.
Have you ever heard a friend complain that their partner bought them the wrong gift, for Valentine’s Day?
We are all guilty sometimes of believing that our partners can read our minds, but this has never been shown to be an effective method of communication. On the other hand, having a strong communication strategy in place not only pre-empts conflict, it’s self-care.
Why do we say “strategy”? Because good communication does not happen automatically. It takes an effort to listen more than you speak and lots of practice to identify little upsets, larger problems, and daily misfires that can result in you feeling on the other side of an ocean from your partner, rather than next to each other in bed.
Good communication takes place before issues arise in order to avoid them completely as well as when that little itch of annoyance starts threatening to become a full-blown conflict. In the latter case, many people have a 3-second rule where they pause before getting frustrated that they’ve already told their partner 10 times or blurting out their first knee-jerk reaction.
We know it’s hard. But taking a beat before responding when something starts brewing goes a long way towards minimizing hurtful impact.
Communicate about everything from your hopes, dreams, and desires to the everyday nitty-gritty. Remember that bad communication has once nearly resulted in World War 3, and worse things have happened because someone left their shirt in the hallway.
If you struggle to find time for affection and romance with your partner, you’re not alone.
The stresses of daily life often make us desperate for a moment for ourselves just to breathe, let alone find quality time for our partners.
Since healthy partnership is such an integral part of cultivating happiness in our lives, it’s important not to let it fall to the wayside completely.
To that end, psychologist Belinda Williams has a simple rule she uses with her clients, who say it has the potential to change your whole relationship: create “micro-moments.”
“I encourage couples to find the smallest opportunity to signal to each other that they care and love one another – it may be ensuring a proper greeting and farewell, a quick cuddle as you pass in the hallway, holding hands as you fall asleep, saying I love you face to face, an expression of gratitude, a small gift like their favorite bread or tea. […] It doesn’t have to be big chunks of time for it to be impactful to your relationship.
“The main principle is that if we wait for opportunities of grand gestures, it often means that this is unattainable or too long between opportunities for connection. So take what you can get. Make the most of the small moments.”
So, have only a couple minutes? Make it count.
Create routines for short satisfying micro-moments to thrive: Hug your partner when you leave the house or come home. Press your lips to theirs—don’t leave it at a peck. Cuddle while watching that YouTube video or reading the news.
Opportunities are everywhere if you look for them!
Fighting with our partners, even when we love each other deeply, is a fact of life. Yet staying together long-term is less about who wins the argument than how you approach conflict in the first place.
One eye-opening 14-year study of 79 married couples aimed to predict the likelihood of divorce in early and later marriages. While 21 couples did divorce over the course of the study, the researchers were able to identify key relationship behaviors for “staying power”.
And guess what: Airing grievances is healthy!The couples who remained together long-term were found to address their problems immediately rather than stewing, suppressing, or retaliating.
This doesn’t mean you should argue in any old way—make a point of hearing your partner out (yes, even if you have to grit your teeth at first). Take responsibility for your role when necessary. Couples who divorced were more likely to cut each other off during arguments or worsen the conflict by making insensitive comments.
And if you didn’t know, now you know!
Have you heard of the 5 love languages?
Your primary and secondary “love languages” are the ways you prefer to show and be shown affection. They can help partners identify how they are approaching their relationship and where there may be mismatches or misunderstandings.
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that one of the five languages is “spending quality time” together. If you and your partner have common interests like cooking, ballroom dance, or hiking, then you’re set!—no need to read farther 😉 Just kidding…
Setting aside time for your shared passions is a great way to consistently enjoy each other’s company and keep your love in bloom. But what if you don’t share many hobbies, or your partner has a major pastime that you don’t know much about?
Although it may be hard to listen to the mechanics of model airplanes for hours on end, good partners show interest in their lovers’ interests. This takes communication too, as you both want to feel like your time is balanced—and it certainly won’t improve your relationship if your eyes glaze over and you fall asleep.
See if you can agree on a “hobby exchange” for an hour or two a week. You’ll gain beautiful insight into your partner’s world, understand them a bit better, and grow closer together.
It can be very hard to admit when your love feels stale. Even when you do, this doesn’t mean your love has to fade. It’s a big wide world and there’s so much to do, after all.
Exercise together, get some exciting endorphins and keep each other accountable for your new healthy routine. Take a weekend trip to somewhere you’ve never been, whether it’s 30 minutes or 3 hours away. Shower together. Cross something off your communal bucket list (whether crochet or Kathmandu).
So what about the other 364 days?
Most importantly? Bring that experimental curiosity to the bedroom. Erosscia is the expert in exploration with 3 body-safe vibrators that attach to the head of your electric toothbrush. It doesn’t have to be February for you to feel aroused!