Relational Thinking

Valentineusall: Three Suggestions to Elevate Your Valentine’s Day

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There is no greater source of joy and meaning in our lives than our relationships with others. This Valentines Day, I’m doing something a little different to celebrate the love in my life. I want to share with you my plans, in the hope they inspire you to think outside the box too. 

On February 14th, I’m co-hosting a 20-person dinner at my home in New York for a close circle of friends. I’ve named it Valentineusall, with the intention that it celebrates love and support we derive from others, not only our romantic partner. I’ll be making the main dish, and each guest will bring a dish inspired by connection (whatever that means to them). Over dinner, we’ll reflect on our stories of connection to one another. 

My hope is that this dinner will remind us all of the web of support we have, and the love inherent in our everyday relationships. It takes a village to nurture and support every human being. This Valentine’s Day, I invite you to reach out to your village. 

Here are three ways you can reflect on your relational life with your village this month.  

Write the “Story of Us” 

Relationships do not only have a story, they are a story. Tell it. Plan to get together with an important person in your life (it could be your best friend, brother, spouse, aunt, etc.). Bring a little notebook (a real paper notebook) and spend the dinner writing your Story of Us. 

You can co-author the story, or a fun way is that one person writes a paragraph and the other must pick up where the first one left off, then the first one does the same. Your story can be soulful or irreverent, as you like. Relationship stories are told in many tones. 

For some of you, this might be the beginning of a multi-year journal entry you add to in years to come. Hold on to your notebook and next year, add another entry. I am borrowing this exercise name from the beautiful work of colleagues who created a program called Relationshift

Dedicate time

It’s not what you do or how you do it: it’s quality of time. A memorable dinner can be had no matter how nice the restaurant is or how expensive the wine. We often evaluate our dedication to others through money spent, but this can be a falsity. Show love by removing distractions (like smartphones or work woes) and instead be present, together. 

Speak your truth 

There’s something so powerful about reading and receiving messages of love. It’s why wedding vows are spoken, and why they remain powerful in our memories. Write a message of love for your friend or partner and, instead of giving it to them on card or email, read it to them. You’ll be surprised by how powerful simply speaking the words can be! We all need positive affirmations and a small statement goes a long way in making us feel valued and important. 

We are all in relationships, whether in a committed romantic one or not. Hence, let’s make February 14th a day to honor all the love in our lives, not only the romantic kind.

Let us know in the comments on Facebook how you celebrate the love in your life. 

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