Buying gifts for any holiday can be stressful, but somehow finding just the right thing for Valentine's Day seems harder than most. Heather Severn, a licensed marriage and family therapist, recommends that sometimes the right thing might not be a thing at all.
"It's important to know what your spouse's love language is," she said. "Some prefer gifts, physical touch, acts of service, quality time or words of affirmation."
And while roses may be the quintessential emblem of Valentine's Day, here are a dozen other ideas, in all different love languages, to show love for your Valentine.
- Get a couple’s massage. Relaxing together and receiving needed stress relief can be great aphrodisiacs. Most spas offer services and packages for couples to enjoy a relaxing massage and other treatments — or even a romantic soak together afterward in a "ritual bath" for couples offered at Sego Lily Spa. Too shy to try it? Sego Lily also offers a private couples’ massage class where a licensed massage therapist will teach you and your partner “to create a relaxing environment at home, how to drape (using sheets to expose the area being worked), basic massage strokes, how to use proper techniques and how to massage without getting tired.“
- Enjoy dinner together at a new restaurant. If you don’t want to fight the crowd at a chain restaurant or deal with the hassle of making and cleaning up dinner, try a more intimate restaurant like Ogden’s Bistro 258. Owner Devin Cash commented, "We recently had a couple in [to the restaurant] who were visiting from California. They loved their experience and commented to me that Bistro 258 was the first restaurant they had been to in Utah that didn't have a television. I took that as a compliment."
- Play together. Sometimes competition is the best way to stoke the fires of romance. So if your Valentine enjoys a sport, go delight in letting him or her beat the socks off of you. Not sporty? Board games can be just as competitive and just as fun.
- Read together. Often romance stagnates because couples spend so much of their energies on work and children that when the chance comes to focus on each other, they may find they are at a loss for things to talk about besides work and the children. So read a book aloud to one another. It doesn’t need to be a romance novel; anything that interests both of you can lead to increased dialogue and intimacy.
- Give the gift of time. It seems counterintuitive that being apart could create closeness, but according to John Gray, author of "Why Mars and Venus Collide," taking time for self-care lowers stress and increases marital harmony. “Never in history have women [and men] been expected to do so much, and that can be overwhelming…. Of course, that stress is immediately transmitted [to one’s spouse] … and ends in misunderstanding, friction and a sense of helplessness.” Giving your sweetheart some private time to enjoy a hobby or some pampering can go a long way in showing you care.
- See a show. Seeing a live performance is a simple way to bump up the usual dinner-and-a-movie date to something sparkling for Valentine’s Day. There are a number of local productions happening Feb. 14, such as "Noises Off" at Centerpoint Legacy Theatre, Ballet West’s "Don Quixote" at the Capitol Theater or Kingsbury Hall’s "Celtic Nights."
- Give sweets to your sweetheart. If your budget just won’t allow a two pound box of mint truffles, wrap your sweetie’s favorite candy bar in a cute free label.
- Kidnap your love. Surprise your Valentine by kidnapping him or her for a lunch date. Use a blindfold and have your partner guess where you might be taking them. Give your main squeeze a drink and let them enjoy the ride while you escort them to a favorite restaurant or a picnic in your living room.
- Recreate a beloved memory. Your first date, first kiss, where you got engaged — those places and times hold romance, and revisiting them can be a great way to show your partner you remember why you fell in love in the first place. Recreate the magic of falling in love by experiencing it again.
- Do your spouse’s routine chores without fanfare. It’s easy to take for granted the day-to-day chores that a spouse performs. To show you notice the wonderful help your husband or wife is, do all of his or her chores or household duties for a week without asking for recognition. Severn explains, "When the chores or menial tasks are done, it allows for more time to connect with each other emotionally and physically. Typically, women usually want to connect emotionally before sex and men feel more connected after sex. A lot of the time, women can focus better connecting emotionally and physically with their spouse when the dishes are done and the kids are in bed."
- Take an overnighter. Whether taking a weekend trip or just an overnighter, there are numerous options for planning a romantic getaway not too far from home — or too far above your budget. Enjoy one of the many lovely luxury hotels or bed and breakfasts that Utah boasts.
- Write a love letter. Sometimes the most wonderful way to show you love someone is simply to say it. Use a free card template from the Internet or make one of your own and then fill it with all of the little and big things you love about your Valentine. Or use a post-it notepad to leave lots of little love notes in unexpected places like on the milk carton, the bathroom faucet or the steering wheel of your Valentine’s car. Just sharing your love in your own words, however simple, can mean the world to the one you love most.