Originally published for South Denver Psychotherapy Feb. 2016

It’s Not About the Big Gestures: A Valentine’s Day Guide

Valentine’s Day represents a gigantic source of societal pressure. From what to get your significant other, to where you’d like to go, what you’d like to do, and so on and so forth, Valentine’s Day can put a lot of stress into a relationship.

But what if we told you it didn’t have to?

The thing about Valentine’s Day—according to—is that, though having a day of the year set aside for the celebration of the people you love is great, there are a large number of conflicting expectations that hang over February 14th. And, in addition to the cloud of societal and cultural pressures that Valentine’s Day represents, it always seems that no two people have the same expectations as to how they’re supposed to express their love.

Clashing expectations lead to a lot of tension in a relationship. But according to our own Dr. Pam Kennel, a healthy relationship shouldn’t have to rely on one day of expectations, regardless of how they’re met. Instead, a relationship should be about showing love every day.

Relationships are at their healthiest when each member of the relationship shows a constant level of consideration for the other. This doesn’t mean taking your significant other on a series of ever more elaborate and romantic dates—for one, that can put a serious amount of strain on your finances—but rather, it’s about truly considering how your actions can affect the person you love. If they tell you something they don’t like, for example, pay attention and make an effort to fix the problem. Tell them that something they’ve done for you is appreciated; even if you feel appreciative, it might be hard for your significant other to see unless that feeling is expressed verbally.

The key to every successful relationship is communication. That doesn’t just mean expressing yourself; instead, it means making sure that your significant other knows they’re being heard. Likewise, it’s rare to find a couple where one single gesture on one day out of the year covers every facet of the relationship.

Every relationship is made out of people, and people can’t be summed up in one big gesture. Instead, find a way to show your significant other how you love them every day, from emptying the dishwasher, to listening to their concerns, to telling them how much they mean to you.

If you have any questions about relationship counseling, please don’t hesitate—contact South Denver Psychotherapy today. Our staff can help you express the love you feel for your significant other every day of the year.

Happy Valentine’s Day!