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Don’t let Valentine’s Day pressure lead to a breakup

Some people feel really close to their partner in the days before Valentine’s Day, and enjoy finding ways to show that they care. But for many people, Valentine’s Day brings a lot of unwanted pressure.

If your relationship is not going well, February 14 may be an unwelcome reminder of the gap between what is – and what you wish could be. I seem to get several new couples every year right about this time, because the big push to celebrate their love reminds them of all the things they wish were different.

In fact, some people feel so strongly about not wanting to “fake it” that they break up right before Valentine’s Day, in order to avoid having to pretend.

Rather than going that route, think about how this could be the beginning of something different. If you and your partner have been sniping at each other lately, try writing a note about the things you LIKE about them, and encouraging them to do the same.   That could be a better gift than the most expensive box of candy!

Another idea is to give each other some relationship IOUs good for the next three months, instead of doing everything in one day. For example, you might create an IOU for a back rub your partner can cash in when they need it, or an IOU for one breakfast in bed that you provide and clean up from. Maybe they would really like a couple of hours of your time watching the kids while they go see a friend. Perhaps the best gift would be a few minutes of your time really listening to what they have to say without interrupting.

Cards are great, but don’t just sign your name, write something meaningful. If things haven’t been going well, can you mention a time when they were great and say that you would like to be as close as you were then? Can you offer to go away together overnight? Can you commit to a few counselling sessions together with the goal of getting closer again?

Counselling isn’t a sign of failure, any more than going to the dentist for a cleaning is a sign you have been doing something wrong. Some of my couples are actually doing really well now, but still come every three months or so to keep things from ever deteriorating again.

What if Valentine’s Day were a reminder of all things that are good about your relationship, and an opportunity to start getting more of them?

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