Every year, couples bend over backwards to make restaurant reservations, purchase gifts and candies, and plan extravagant dates to show their love to one another on Valentine's Day. The unfortunate reality, however, is that the financial strain and general stress that comes with grandiose celebration can have a negative impact on the actual enjoyment of this lover’s holiday.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with pulling out the stops to create a romantic evening for your spouse, nor is there anything wrong with buying gifts for the one you love. The problem arises when this stuff gets in the way of the true purpose of Valentine’s Day: celebrating your love for one another.

This Valentine’s Day, make sure that you aren’t losing sight of spending quality time together, and perhaps more importantly, make sure you aren’t investing too much into expectations for material things or being “wined and dined.”

Instead, make February 14th about the love you have for one another – do something you both love to do, go somewhere you can afford so you don’t spend dinner stressing about the bill, get a sitter for the kids and lock yourselves in the bedroom – whatever you decide to do, make it about you as a couple, and not forced into what you think Valentine’s Day is supposed to be (or what the magazines and greeting card companies want it to be).

The last thing you want is for the holiday to be sullied by an easily avoidable argument or unneeded stress.

The simplest way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is by showing love – do each other favors, compliment one another (sincerely), work together to pare down the potential stressors that could hold you back on this special day, hold hands, anything that is going to make the day more pleasant for both of you. While filet mignon, candy, and flowers are nice, they don’t necessarily express how you truly feel about your partner. Here’s a really easy way to write a love letter that they’ll cherish for the rest of their lives.

Step 1- List the top five things that you’re thankful for about your life together:

Valentine’s Day should be about the love you have for one another.

1. _______________________________________

2. _______________________________________

3. _______________________________________

4. _______________________________________

5. _______________________________________

Step 2- List your spouses’ five best qualities today:

1. _______________________________________

2. _______________________________________

3. _______________________________________

4. _______________________________________

5. _______________________________________

Step 3- Sit down and write it in this form:

Dear ____,

This Valentine's Day I wanted to tell you how thankful I am for our life together and tell you all the things I love about you.

I am thankful for ___________, ______________________, _____________________, _________________,  and __________________.

I love you because you are _________________, _________________, __________________, ____________________, and __________________.

Happy Valentines Day!

I love you,

{Signature}

Whatever you do this Valentine’s Day, make sure it begins and ends with love for your spouse, and making that love apparent throughout the day. In fact, don’t just save your love for Valentine’s Day – you can do this every single day of the year!

If you’d like to learn other ways to make your marriage more loving, affectionate, passionate and fulfilling, check out our StrongMarriageNow System.

Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, StrongMarriageNow.com