Q: My wife drops little hints about February 14 as soon as we see heart shaped candy in the grocery store. Don't get me wrong, I love my wife, but I have a hard time paying double the price for a dozen roses or going out to an expensive restaurant just because it's Valentine's Day!
A: Stores have barely cleared out their Christmas stock when they start making room for Valentine's gifts and treats. Expectations for showing our love have risen to an all-time consumer high, often to the detriment of our finances and creativity.
Advertising makes it sound as if February 14 is the only important day to show those you love how special they are. Before you think about buying anything, put things in perspective and consider what would make your wife and those you love feel special.
How to Make Your Spouse Feel Special
A very simple yet profoundly effective way to fill your spouse's love tank on Valentine’s Day is to figure out the way in which your partner feels the most love. There’s actually a very easy way to do this. It’s called the 5 Love Languages. The concept is that there are one or two key ways that each of us tend to feel really loved.
The Best Way to Show Your Love – Speak Their Love Language
A Marriage Counsellor who wrote a book on this based on his decades of observations and experiences claims there are essentially 5 different ways to show love. When you show love to someone using their preferred way of receiving love, you are speaking their language – their love language. Here are the five ways of communicating love:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
So again, the theory is that each of us has a primary and secondary love language, and that each of us feels especially loved when someone shows us love using one of those languages.
What It Means to Speak the Right Love Language
If a husband lavishes gifts on his wife but Receiving Gifts isn't one of her strongest love languages, then this expression of love may not cause her to feel loved. But if her husband figures out that Words of Affirmation is one of her strongest love languages, then by taking the time to write her a card with beautiful, encouraging, and loving words, she would feel tremendously loved as he was now speaking her love language.
If your partner's love language is Acts of Service, find meaningful ways to serve them: pick them up from work, make dinner, do the dishes, take out the trash, clean the house, or run errands for them. If their love language is Quality Time, look for ways to spend time completely focused on them. Try going for a walk together somewhere, turn off the TV when your partner speaks to you, take them on a date, or spend extra time just talking with them. If their love language is Words of Affirmation, find ways to complement them, build them up, and express your love with words. Try leaving them notes around the house, take the time to tell them what you love about them, and look for occasions to complement them. When they’re looking good or do something you appreciate, make sure to express in words your sincere, positive thoughts about them. This will help them feel really loved and score you a lot of points.
How to Figure Out Your Spouse’s Love Languages
To figure out your partner’s strongest love languages, take some time to think about how they often show their love to you. They probably do for you what they would like you to do for them. Think about the ways you have shown your partner love in the past that they really responded positively to. You can also eliminate love languages by remembering times you showed love to your partner using one of the love languages, but they didn’t respond as you’d hoped. Think about more than one occasion; don’t count someone’s off day as the best example of what their love languages might be.
Sometimes people reveal their love languages in what they complain about. Someone may have shown your spouse a lot of love in a way that isn't meaningful to them, but they may complain that they don't feel loved by that person because that person wasn't showing love in the way that your spouse feels love. If someone needs to hear that they are loved, then Words of Affirmation might be one of their top love languages. If someone needs others to show them their love, then maybe Acts of Service is one of their key love languages.
To learn more about The 5 Love Languages, check out this article by the author where he offers more examples and details. You can also buy the book or see if your local library has it (a lot of them do).
How to Make Valentine's Day More Affordable & Save Some Money
As you've probably realized by now, if you can identify your partner's top love languages (and if Receiving Gifts isn't one of them), then you can potentially save a lot of money on Valentine's Day and still hit a home run. Just make sure to discuss the 5 Love Languages with your partner before Valentine's Day, confirm with them what their top love languages are, and see what kind of expectations they have around receiving flowers, chocolate, and cards. If you both realize there is a more meaningful way to show each other love, then that's a great insight that can improve your relationship.
If your spouse does enjoy gifts such as lingerie, wine or chocolate, try to buy a gift early when it's less expensive. When Valentine's Day arrives – depending on their love language – you could follow up by spending time with them over a special home-cooked meal, picking them up from work, or sending a Valentine's e-card to them at work.
If your wife likes flowers, consider a plant for the garden or a dozen roses at another time (if she's okay with that). "Just because" gifts can be reasonable and brighten someone's day when they least expect it.
When Money is Tight
If your finances are tight right now, have a conversation with your spouse about what your current financial priorities are and what you are both comfortable with spending on Valentine's Day. This kind of a conversation can help to relieve pressure, set appropriate expectations, and ensure you are both on the same page.
Count the Kids & Teens In Too
If you're buying for your children, keep it reasonable. Children need to feel loved every day of the year, so a token treat in their lunch, a special note or a homemade gift certificate for an activity to share another time makes for a unique surprise and avoids inflated prices.
If you have young children who want to exchange cards with their friends, look for bulk cards and treats or pull out the red paper, stickers and glitter glue. Spend an afternoon helping them make their cards.
Make one for your spouse while you're at it and personalize it with a "treat" for just the two of you! If you have teens with Valentine's events at school, encourage them to budget for those expenses themselves, looking for ways to earn the cash they need.
Debt Will Kill Any Lovin' Feelings
Going into debt to show someone how special they are will kill those lovin' feelings. Make your love about the thoughtfulness of your gifts and deeds, not a price-tag.
Figure out your partner's love languages and focus your attention on what makes them feel loved – even if their love language(s) do nothing for you. Those who have learned to use the 5 Love Languages find them to be a game changer. They help you hit a home run almost every time and keep your spending at an affordable level.
The bottom line? Remember to show your love on more than just February 14. Cupid, after all, is at work every day of the year.