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VALENTINE'S DAY | The advice: Above all else, have some fun
A local relationship expert advises couples to enjoy the moments, avoid the hype and spend time together on Valentine's Day.
For couples, the most challenging aspect of Valentine's Day may be the expectations that are placed on the holiday, according to Lanea Miller, Renton marriage and family therapist. That's the most common issue Miller has seen in her 13 years of experience.
"They kind of have this ideal in their mind that they want to have, but they're still in this pattern of the way they are the rest of the year," Miller said of couples.
Also she's experienced partners who have fallen into set routines and have become comfortable doing the same thing year after year. Trying new things and stepping outside of comfort areas is important, she said.
"Valentine's Day doesn't have to be about the Russell Stover's box of chocolates," Miller said. "It could be a walk at a beach or a park, or where you both like to go. Something different that you both like to do that you don't do every day."
Some people feel pressured to spend a lot of money, but a valentine could me a hand-written letter, a homemade meal or a walk at your favorite place, Miller said.
"What I encourage my patients to do is that (their) one expectation is to have fun," the therapist said. "In our society we have a spelled-out way of what a romantic evening is supposed to look like. It's about really getting to enjoy that time with your partner. The point of a holiday is to enjoy your partner."
Miller advises being in the moment with your partner and making lists of all the things you like about them all year round.
"Couples get into that pattern where they think that every conversation has to be a deep meaningful conversation, and it doesn't," she said. "One of the best things about being a couple is being able to go and enjoy an activity together."
Conversations don't have to revolve around where a couple's future is going or what the kids are doing, if they have them. Activities together should be unique to the couple and their interests.
"It would really be hard for me to have a bad time doing something I already like to do," said Miller.
Her advice for Valentine's Day is to above all have fun.
"It's supposed to be a fun day, not a stressful day," she said. "Go and think of it as having a good fun time."