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Ah, Valentine’s Day. As much as you try to ignore it, the red hearts, smiling posts, and ads with happy couples seem to be everywhere. But what happens to Valentine’s Day when your marriage is struggling?

What happens if you’re not feeling “the love” this year?

One option is to never check your Facebook ever again and hide in a cave (we totally get that feeling), or you could try these 3 things to make your Valentine’s Day … better … even when your marriage is struggling.

1. Point out the elephant in the room.

It’s been a hard year. I’m sure that’s not a revelation to either of you. And this may not be your first rotten season leading up to Valentine’s Day.

A bad stretch in a marriage can range from “we’re just kinda off” to a deeply difficult time of learning about dishonesty, feeling ignored, or even suffering from abuse. And everywhere in between.

For those of you dealing with a difficult spell, we encourage you to mention the “elephant in the room” and talk to your spouse before February 14th arrives. Get real. Tell your spouse how you’re feeling and what your ideas are about the holiday this year.

You might:

  • Agree to set aside current hurts and enjoy a pleasant lunch or dinner together.
  • Plan an anti-Valentine’s Night together – sweat pants, frozen pizza, and Netflix.
  • Suggest that you skip gifts since it just doesn’t seem to fit where you are this year, but cards would be great.
  • Handwrite letters to one another recalling a fun Valentine’s Day in the past.
  • Use the day or evening to do an act of service for the other person. If you don’t see yourself spending a ton of time together that night, what if you used that time to help the other person out with some kind of chore they hate or using a talent you have to honor them? A thoughtful gift of your time and effort.
  • Make an extra effort to be nice and find something positive to compliment them on that day.

Be honest with one another about how you’re feeling this year.

But remove the possibility of further hurt feelings on Valentine’s Day by briefly discussing your expectations.

Oxford professor and Christian thinker, C.S. Lewis said this of marriage,

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements.”

It’s okay to acknowledge that you’re hurting and “wrung” out right now. But communicate that directly, so both of you can navigate that day and evening as positively as possible even on Valentine’s Day when your marriage is struggling.

2. Take a blast from the past this Valentine’s Day.

Think back. Every relationship starts out with such promise. All smiles, happy times, good memories, inside jokes, late nights, and all levels of wonderful passion.

Although those happy times may seem galaxies away right now, that really was the two of you. It was! (You probably have the “bad hair” photos to prove it.)

What if you could recreate a spark, a morsel, of that feeling right now, this year for Valentine’s Day? You might be surprised at the result.

Could you:

  • Listen to a playlist of old tunes from when you were dating
  • Take time to share one of your best memories
  • Pull out the photo albums or play a digital slideshow of happier times
  • Recall a past Valentine’s Day gone wrong that you laughed about later
  • Return to a restaurant or location you frequented when you were dating
  • Make plans to use the evening to reconnect with old friends together
  • Recreate a Valentine’s Day from years past or give a similar version of a beloved gift
  • Reread your vows or look back through your wedding photos
  • Pray together for next year’s Valentine’s Day to feel better – dive into the awkwardness and let go of any notions of how to do it, but pray. Together.

Your relationship started off good…in a positive place with hopes and dreams. Now life certainly hasn’t turned out like you’d envisioned, but God has never stepped away from you. He is in this marriage and rooting for both of you to heal and feel love even on Valentine’s Day when your marriage is struggling.

Maybe there’s a refreshing rest stop for your relationship on memory lane this year. Or maybe talking honestly about your pain today leads you both to consider marriage counseling.

valentine's day when your marriage is struggling

3. Use this day to honor other people in your life who mean so much to you.

There is no rule that Valentine’s Day is only meant for a husband and wife. Take this opportunity to shower some love on others in your life.

If you’re fortunate enough to have your parents still alive, drop them a note of thanks or love. You could write a note of blessing for each child. How about a formative teacher or professor in your past? The internet makes it quite easy to find an address (there’s good and bad there, right?) to bless a former instructor with a note of thanks. Did you have a boss who was especially encouraging or helpful? You don’t have to send them a card with hearts and flowers, but you could be inspired by this day of love to drop them a nice note.

Find ways to “love on” other people in your life.

Making someone else’s day often makes yours too.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you.

Building Bridges Christian Counseling

Building Bridges Christian Counseling understands how difficult a marriage relationship is and they know ways to help you and your spouse through the tough patches and the almost-unbearable patches too. Give us a call today and let’s talk about ways we might help. (909) 303-0563 Call or text. Located in the Inland Empire with offices in Ontario and Fontana.