Happy Valentine’s Day, ladies! As we all know, once kids come along it can feel hard to connect with your partner and prioritize the union (we got into this a bit in our discussion on how you define yourself after kids). So: here are three working moms’ stories about how they connect with their partner on Valentine’s Day…
Valentine’s Day is pretty low-key for my husband and me, although we do exchange cards, and we go out for dinner. (I like to decorate the house a little bit, too.) This year, we’ll share a heart-shaped cheesecake … but my son will have some, too … and the cheesecake is from my mom … who bought it from a fundraiser for a dog rescue group. See? Low-key. (We did get our wedding cake from the same bakery, but that’s just a coincidence. Related side note: If you’re ever in Rochester, NY, and happen to require cheesecake, you must visit Cheesy Eddie’s.)
Before we became parents, we’d to go out to dinner on the holiday itself (at least, I think — mom brain has done a number on my memory), but now we do dinner on the following Saturday while our son spends time with my parents. And because he saw The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part at a birthday party last week and we’re fans of the Lego movies, we’re actually going to see that not-exactly-romantic film after dinner. Works for me!
My husband is in the middle of an EMBA program right now, so in general we have less time together than usual. We do have “date nights” — dinner, movies, concerts — but I’ve been thinking that we should do those on more of a schedule (both now and post-MBA) to ensure more one-on-one time and go beyond my typical, “Oh, the latest Marvel movie is coming out, so let’s ask my parents to babysit.” (Note to self: Text Mom, because Captain Marvel comes out next month.) I’d be interested to hear from readers: Do you have a certain schedule for date nights? Once a month, twice a month? Once a week?
My husband’s love languages have always been “words of affirmation” and “acts of service.” I never realized how important words of affirmation were to people before meeting my husband (call me dense) because in my family we operated on good-natured ribbing and sarcasm. Now that we have a child, successful, loving, and generous communication is what we strive for daily. We both try and make an effort to thank the other for emptying the dishwasher, filling up the baby’s humidifier, or doing all of the little annoying tasks that keep everything running smoothly. I personally don’t take it as a “thank you,” but as an “I see you.”
Valentine’s Day means little to nothing to me personally, but I actually do get joy out of seeing people decorating or dressed festively. My husband and I stopped actually going out for dinner or celebrating it in a monetary way years ago, but think of it as an extra moment in the day to say, “Happy Valentine’s Day. I see you out there working hard and I appreciate you.” (Not usually an exact quote — lol.) Also, I think Valentine’s Day is a fun reason to tell people other than your significant other that you love them — I like reaching out to my dad and mom on that day, or my best girl friends and saying (texting), “Today is about love and I just want you to know I have a lot of it for you!”
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to figure out what to give the other two-year-olds in my son’s daycare class for Valentine’s Day. <eye roll emoji>
I’m writing mine after reading April’s and Kate’s so I’ll put mine last — I love the idea of “I see you” words of affirmation from April’s piece, and like Kate my husband and I have a pretty low-key, relaxed Valentine’s Day (although probably no cards or flowers for us unless my husband surprises me this year). I think the most attempt at “romance!” we ever made was when we had just started dating and decided to go to Paris for Valentine’s Day, which is such a lovely memory now. In our current life with the two kids and various extended family fun, it always feels like we have a ton going on, so date nights are critical for us to reconnect with each other as people instead of as parents/roommates/moving pieces. To slightly answer Kate’s question, we try to do a date night once every two weeks, but if we end up doing something that decreases the 1:1 connection (like a movie, concert, couples’ date night, fundraiser, whatever) then I try to make sure that the next date night is just the two of us at dinner. (With martinis!) Accordingly, we’ve got restaurant reservations for just the two of us this coming Saturday, but tonight we’ll just go out with the boys.
I read once that the key to a good marriage boils down to 60 seconds a day — 30 seconds in the morning and at night of actually seeing your partner, giving them your full attention, listening to them and really focusing on their needs and thoughts and desires. As we’re approaching our tenth anniversary, it’s crazy to me how difficult it can be to consistently have 60 good seconds a day… so regular date nights work for us. (But really, I should be better at striving for 60 seconds a day!)
Readers, what are your plans to celebrate Valentine’s Day? In general, what are your best tips for how to connect with your partner?
Pictured: Shutterstock / Brian A. Jackson.