Q: How can I turn Valentine's Day into a romantic date worth remembering?
A: I can suggest a number of tips for making the most of Feb. 14. The most important, however, is to make the holiday a celebration of your relationship.
First, be tuned in to your mate's picture of Valentine's Day. Some couples like to share a romantic dinner, some exchange greeting cards, others want sexy lingerie to be given and worn.
Valentine's Day may have evolved into the idea of men buying women lots of jewelry, flowers, candy, and lingerie, but I think a shared experience, where women give as much as men, is the better approach. Still, talk about your romantic expectations beforehand to minimize disappointment. Differing ideas can cause a little heartbreak.
Next, create a plan. When I was dating my husband-to-be, one of my favorite Valentine's Day activities was to create a treasure hunt that had him driving here and there, finding little gifts and clues for where he was to go next. Ultimately he found himself at a destination where I had a nice meal, drinks, and romantic music playing.
But it shouldn't always be one spouse treating the other. Take turns. Alternate years as to who is in charge of setting the mood. That way, two sets of well-intentioned plans don't collide with each other, fouling up the outcome.
If you both work long hours, consider celebrating the weekend before. Valentine's Day falls on Feb. 14, but there's no reason to be restricted by that -- the point is to share a special time. If you have small children, put them to bed early and then exchange gifts, even if it's a single rose and a card.
For couples going through less than stellar times, such as a serious illness or work setbacks, what is most romantic is standing by each other. It is difficult for people to soothe themselves while offering support to their mates. Mature love does both, and I would like to see more Valentine's cards reflect a stand-by-your-mate, long-term sensibility.
As for sexual intimacy on the big night (or morning, or afternoon), put a note in your partner's briefcase, lunch box, or wallet listing a menu of sexual activities you would love to offer when you get together later. He or she can then return the note (complete with choices!) and you can go from there. Or consider using massage oils, sex toys (even a feather can be pretty exciting), or adult videos to add spark to the occasion.
Even if you struggle with low libido, don't downplay the importance of fantasies. Use these images in your mind to get you thinking in that direction on Valentine's Day. It is, after all, a day for love.