A Modest Proposal on Valentine’s Day

“Let Valentine’s Day be the beginning of you showing love in a new way, don’t let it be a one-day thing,”

                                                                                                                              – Dr. Ellyn Bader

I’m gonna go out on a limb here.

I’m asking all couples to make a mindful and consistent effort to show love and appreciation for their spouses. What good is one day? One box of chocolates? We need a little Valentines Day every day!

I’ll call it the VD lifestyle!!….(well maybe I’ll call it something else, but you get my drift.)

Dr. Bader suggests that we get into a Valentines Day mindset by taking ourselves on. That’s what her couples therapy Developmental Model is all about.

I mean, on your first date, if you’re partner asked you “…and what sort of nut job are you?” What could you have come clean about? What skills, what sad little hinges, could you swing right now that would take you out of nut job… and into a Valentines Day Perfect-Partner mindset?

What change, if you made it, would utterly delight your partner? And what if they made the same change for you?


valentines day

Dr. Bader tells us that it starts with getting curious, not furious. Let’s explore exactly the kind of annoying nut jobs we all are. Can I get more specific? Sure.

Hey look, the recent science about attachment, human development, learned behaviors, what we now understand about the interaction of the emotional brain and the rational brain, change is within your reach! We know so much now brain science…it’s a freakin’ renaissance! Couples therapy is science! Being a nut job is optional! There is a science of love! Bliss is within reach! Valentines Day can be every day!

valentines day

Research tells us that these particular behaviors will make a huge difference:

  • Six-second kisses and 10-second hugs.
  • Incorporate rituals focused on connection into your daily lives.
  • Drop what you’re doing when your partner comes home.
  • Greet them with a hug.
  • Take time every night to check in with each other every night. How was your day, my love?
  • Promise yourselves a regular date night at least twice a month, more if you can manage.
  • Address your fun deficit with furious determination (c’mon, you know you have one).

Valentines day

  • Be there. Be present.
  • Make contact throughout the workday, even if it’s just a quick text, to show you’re thinking about each other.
  • And don’t forget what the research tells us about cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude.
  • You are blessed with love. Keep it that way.

So getting back to my original point. Why not ask your partner:

“hey… what crazy nut job behavior would you like me to stop doing… just out of love for you?

You might find them speechless with their jaw hanging in amazement.

So while mediocre couples might go all lovey-dovey on this crazy once-a-year lovebird holiday, why not offer on this Valentine’s Day a correction of your intimate connection? Why not make every day Valentine’s Day for you both from now on?



About the Author Daniel Dashnaw

Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, three seasons in Cummington (at the foothills of the Berkshires...) and in Miami during joint retreats with his wife, Dr. Kathy McMahon. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.

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