So you're coming up on your umpteeth Valentine's Day together. It's very possible to run out of ideas for married couples on Valentine's Day. Not to worry: I've tapped six relationship experts to weigh in on the best things you can do for Valentine's Day — and for your marriage — this year.
"Just because you're married doesn't mean you have to approach Valentine's Day any differently than single people," Rob Alex, who created Sexy Challenges and Mission Date Night with his wife, tells Bustle. "The beauty of being married on Valentine's Day is that you should know your partner a little better than those just dating." This means you can relax and really have fun with it.
And this doesn't mean that you have to spend a zillion dollars. "You don't have to break the bank to celebrate Valentine's Day, or to prove how much you love each other by spending more than you can afford to," relationship coach and psychic medium Cindi Sansone-Braff tells Bustle. "There are so many simple, inexpensive, creative, and romantic ways to say 'I love you,' and these gifts of the heart will make lasting memories that neither one of you will soon forget."
Here are 13 ideas for married valentines.
1. Try Something New
"I think it is important to do something different and special," psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. "Just because you have been together forever is no less reason to celebrate and make it special." In other words, Valentine's Day doesn't become an automatic opt-out if you've been together for 10 years, although you're always welcome to pass on the day if you like. "Try a new restaurant, rent a nice hotel room, take a bath together, try something new in the bedroom that you have each been too shy to ask about," she suggests. "The most important thing is to enjoy yourself, de-stress, and connect."
2. Make A Tradition
"Start a new tradition," Carlyle Jansen, author of Sex Yourself: The Woman’s Guide to Mastering Masturbation and Achieving Powerful Orgasms , tells Bustle. One possibility? "Renew your commitment to each other and how you want to create an awesome sexual connection together by being specific," Jansen says. "One option is that each partner writes down 10 ideas of fun dates/sexcapades."
From there, read them together and revise, discard or discuss as necessary. "Put the ones you both accept in a jar," she says. "Every month, one or two (depending on how many you have) can be pulled out for inspiration." You've created a tradition that gives back year-round, and you can do it again next V-Day.
3. Take Some 'Heart Selfies'
Once again, doing something you've never done before ranks high. Alex tells Bustle that he suggests that "the best way to celebrate is to do something different so that you get that excitement." Speaking of exciting, have you ever taken a "heart selfie"? "If you are short on cash, one good thing I would recommend is the 'heart selfie,'" Alex, aka the Guru of Getting It On, says. "This would include going around and any place that you see a heart, take a selfie of the two of you together with the heart." Then what? "You can make a scrapbook from the pictures," says Alex, "or you can really annoy your friends on social media by posting them all."
4. Spend The Day Together
"This year, Valentine's Day happens to fall on a Sunday, so it may be possible for you to spend the entire day together," Sansone-Braff, author of Why Good People Can't Leave Bad Relationships, tells Bustle. And she has plenty of ideas about how best to spend that day. "Go for a walk together," she tells Bustle. "Couples that walk together talk together, and don't let the weather stop you. Bundle up if you have to, but pick a romantic spot for the walk: the beach, a park." If it's insanely cold, raining or pouring snow, you can always take an indoor walk. "If the weather should be truly horrendous, then mall-walk and window-shop, and stop and buy each other some small, spontaneous gifts that just hit the spot."
If walking isn't your game, how about caffeine and food? "You could go and have coffee together in the middle of the day, and then go food-shopping together and pick out a favorite meal to make for dinner," she says. "Light some candles, put on a tablecloth, drag out the good china and silverware and make your home-cooked Valentine's dinner as romantic as any fine restaurant."
5. Try Something Off The Beaten Path
"Do something that is not traditional," psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. A few possibilities? "A hike, a Valentine breakfast, visiting people in a nursing home who had their spouses pass away," she says. "These are 'connection' action plans with meaning," she says, and they'll infuse your V-Day with warmth.
6. Keep It Simple
"Too much pressure takes the fun out of it," Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences, tells Bustle. "Cards are nice, especially humorous ones, with a romantic one in the mix," she says. "Instead of a dozen roses, bring one, arranged in a vase." Less is more, she says. Rather than going over the top, a carefully chosen gesture or two will mean the most. And don't forget the bedroom, she says. "Make some time in the evening (or even spontaneously during the day, if possible) to get close together, listen to 'your song' — and the rest will happen naturally."
7. Make A Mix
Though approximately no one listens to CDs anymore, you could totally make a mix for your partner for V-Day, and it could even be on CD, says Sansone-Braff. "Why not try making a CD of romantic songs that express how you feel about your spouse?" she says. If you, like me, no longer have the physical capability to make a CD or — gasp — cassette, you could still make a playlist on your phone or computer.
8. Try A Sexy Challenge
First off, bring the romance and intimacy up to the next level, suggests Alex. "Take both to the extreme, be really cheesy-romantic with each other, even discuss it beforehand, so that you know your partner isn't losing their mind," he says. "My wife and I love putting on a show, and to be out someplace to see the reactions of others during these cheesy, romantic moments." And you could try a Sexy Challenge, he says, which are "little e-books" on iTunes and the like. "Each one of these fun activities challenges a couple to do something a little differently in their sex life," he says. "Plus, they add a metaphysical/spiritual feel to your lovemaking."
9. Play 'Three Oranges And A Lemon'
"Review your current sex life by playing the game 'three oranges and a lemon,'" suggests Jansen. "Each partner states three things that you love about your partner's erotic connection to you, and one thing you would like differently." It's a great way to acknowledge the good while also suggesting new ways to approach sex with your partner.
For example, says Jansen: "I love when you jump in the shower with me and initiate sex, I love how you go down on me for as long as it takes for me to come, I love how you surprise me with new toys/outfits to spice things up — and I would really love more all-over body touch/I'd love to explore anal sex/I'd love to try some new sexual positions." Boom.
10. Start Things Off Right
"Set the mood for the day as soon as you wake up by getting up a little early and making love, and making a special breakfast for each other," says Sansone-Braff. Go all-out, she suggests: "Write some little love notes the night before, and stick them everywhere."
11. Reminisce About V-Days Past
If you and your partner have saved cards that you've given each other, you can look through them together and discuss what you and your partner have been through as a couple, Paiva suggests. A little reminiscence can go a long way.
Though V-Day is on Sunday, you might not be able to spend the day together. "If you do have to be separated during the day," says Sansone-Braff, "then send loving, sexy, passionate, fun texts to each other. Be sure to mention the sexy fun that awaits when you're reunited later that evening."
13. Don't Be Selfish
"The key to having a great Valentine's Day is to focus on giving of yourself: your time, your heart, mind, body, and soul to your spouse, who just happens to be your lover as well," says Sansone-Braff. The rest will fall into place naturally.
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.