4 Creative Ways to Rekindle the Love at Home This Valentine's Day
It's been a tough year in so many ways. On top of overwhelming anxieties surrounding illness, finances and family, couples have faced a host of new challenges brought on by hours spent exclusively in one another's company, sometimes in closer-than-comfortable quarters without privacy or the usual friends to vent to. While some couples have been brought closer together, many others have been driven apart. Common issues include both partners working from home, household chores, childcare, and no alone time, as well as the amplification of pre-existing relationship problems. Our intimate relationships have been reshaped drastically, but turbulent times also afford the opportunity to reassess and reconfigure.
In 2021, let's do love differently. And what better day to get started than Valentine's Day?
Valentine's Day is always a challenge, and now more so than ever. Gone (for the moment) are the days of romantic reservations and couple getaways. But with just a little added attention, this Valentine's Day can be an excellent opportunity to strengthen our relationships — not in spite of what is going on in the world but because of it.
Read on for tips from relationship expert and love coach, Gaby Sundra, on how this can be your most meaningful, enjoyable and sexiest Valentine's Day yet, and set you up for better love in 2021.
1. Set the Scene
Since we're still stuck inside, make the most of it. Take this opportunity to set the scene — tidy up or re-organize your space. Set and add some extra ambiance with lighting — candles, string lights or colored lightbulbs are all easy adds. Sundra recommends these lightbulbs that mimic fire.
Don't stop at lighting, invoke all of the senses. Scent is a powerful thing and can be used to elicit a certain mood. Sundra recommends using a diffuser and essential oils like vanilla, lavender, or grapefruit. If you don't have a diffuser, you can hack it by putting several drops on a paper towel, waving it around, then placing it nearby.
Set up your area for intimacy. Make it cozy and beautiful, and have all your special date night essentials. Clear the area of distractions, arrange some flowers, and bring in comfortable plush pillows. "My husband likes to move the coffee table and put a mattress with soft blankets on the floor in the living room or on the outdoor patio if it's warm enough," says Sundra, "set the scene — ambiance it!"
To add to your Valentines' Day enjoyment, Sundra recommends putting together an 'explore your joy' kit for the night. "Get a serving tray or box, and gather any of your favorite things that might make your date more delightful," notes Sundra. "This can be anything from snacks and drinks to intimacy games, massage oil, poetry or whatever delights the senses and brings you together."
Build anticipation and excitement with a handmade, bought or even emailed invitation to your partner. Include hints about your plans, but leave room for the imagination to wander.
2. Dress Up, Dress Down
Going out on Valentine's Day is arguably a waste of time, money, and energy even under normal circumstances. Restaurants are crowded, with lower quality offerings and slow service, and prices get jacked way up. This year, it's off the table altogether. "But you don't have to give up on getting gussied up," Sundra says, "you can still make the night special by getting dressed up at home." Plan with your partner to get dressed separately and then meet up in the living room for the 'big reveal.'
Don't forget to layer. "What's underneath can be a lot of fun too. Whether it's lacy, latex, or a simple tank, consider including layers to be stripped away later."
You can even use dress to build anticipation and elicit participation. Lay out three to four possible outfits and ask your partner to choose which one they want to see you in the most. Consider switching it up mid-date for an outfit change and use all the outfits over the evening.
If you prefer keeping it casual, no problem. Throw on those sweats and get cozy. Sundra emphasizes, "There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to relationships and excitement. Find whatever feels sexy to you both."
3. Initiate Intimacy
"Intimacy is really 'into-me-you-see,'" says Sundra. "If you want to be close, you have to let your partner in." People yearn to be accepted, but how can you truly feel accepted when you hide parts of yourself from the person closest to you? Being able to share your true and full desires, fears, dreams or concerns in a healthy way is a foundation of intimacy building.
This Valentine's Day, share something with your partner that you've never shared before. Maybe it is something sexy that you want to try, a place you have always wanted to go, or an experience from your past that has shaped who you are. Opening up may leave you feeling vulnerable, but that's ok — ultimately your partnership, connection, trust and bond will only grow stronger as you allow yourself to be fully seen.
Another way of deepening your intimacy while confined in quarantine is through words. Not just any words — your words. Write a poem or letter, even if you're not a poet. A little extra effort goes a long way on Valentine's Day. If you don't feel like picking up the pen, find a poem online or buy a book of romantic poetry.
You can also create deeper intimacy and get to know each other better by taking a couple's quiz. Grab a whole book of them, or get a set of intimacy inducing cards and start pulling questions at random or picking out your favorites.
Even if you've been together for years, there's always so much to learn. "Candles, flowers and dressing up are nice, but intimacy is awesome," says Sundra. "Explore the endless options and find what feels most fun."
4. It's All Fun and Games
In the context of a relationship, 'playing games' might sound like a bad thing. But start playing the good kind! If you need to reclaim play within your relationship, Valentine's Day is a great time to start.
One 'good game' you can play without any planning is "5 minutes of affection." Offer up an expression of affection. Think about what your partner might enjoy most, whether it's a soothing foot massage or some light back scratches. Set a timer to take turns pampering one another or sprinkle it in throughout your date in flow — things will get flirty fast.
Another great intimacy game that requires no prep work is "5 Gratitudes." It's easy to feel unappreciated in relationships, especially if you've been with your partner for years. Turn this destructive trend on its head by showing your gratitude full force. Alternate sharing something you are grateful for about each other and your relationship until you've each said five. Try to be specific and thoughtful and come up with some recent examples — your partner will appreciate how much you appreciate them.
Those two games are great because they require no preparation or props, however, some games are worth a little more effort and planning. "Creating your own personal lovers scavenger hunt can lead to a lovely night!" Sundra says. Incorporate any gifts you want to give — hide them around the space you're in. Write some romantic and personal clues. Bonus points for making them rhyme!
Once you're ready to kick things up a notch, try out these Talk, Flirt, Dare cards. They're a great on-ramp to physical intimacy, starting with a question to ask and answer, then moving up to a flirt and finally a dare for your partner. Another game that will stoke the fire is Kinky Truth or Dare, featuring 100 seductive questions and activities to add a little (or a lot) of heat.
What Matters Most
The best Valentine's Day for you and your partner is unique to your relationship. Lean into your strengths while also getting curious about their desires — think through your skillset and your partner's favorite things and look for the overlap (maybe don't make them a romantic meal if your cooking abilities end at cereal!).
Not all of these ideas will appeal to you and your partner — pick the ones that work for you. "What matters most," says Sundra, "is the intention, attention and action you take, not just on Valentine's Day but everyday — the little things add up."
This last year has been intense in many ways and has taken its toll on relationships. Still, we can lean into the opportunity for deeper connection that quarantine creates. Here's your chance for it to not only be your best Valentine's Day yet, but for you to build the foundation for your best year together too.
Are you excited for Valentine's Day? Tweet us @BritandCo!
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