We all know that Valentine’s Day can spark some intense emotions. Some people don’t care at all while others feel deeply saddened and alone. We also know it’s possible to feel alone on Valentine’s Day while married!
In recovery, we are not always feeling romantic. Romantic lovey-dovey feelings can only flourish in a relationship that has trust.
If you are feeling super lovey-dovey but you don’t trust your loved one, might be time to check your feelings! That’s a good indication you’ve gone gaga over someone underserving of your love and attention. That’s not to say they couldn’t be one day, but right now they are not.
For the majority of us, the romance will not return until our loved ones are truly putting in an effort. And even then, it can be an effort!
You like them.
You love them.
But you don’t swoon when they walk into a room.
For the many experts that tell us that’s a normal progression of a relationship, there are a few who do not. I have chosen to listen to those few because I don’t want a relationship void of romance.
I believe that if both parties put in the effort, the relationship can stay sweet. There will always be times when life becomes more consuming than the relationship, but on a whole, I want to look back at my marriage and say, “I was loved and loved him well”.
For us to do this, especially in recovery but also in addiction, it does need to be a mutual effort. However, there are practical things we can do to help build intimacy and repair our relationship. One person may need to put in the initial effort- today, that’s you!
Here are some ideas of how to connect and build your intimacy, without having all the pressure of being romantic.
Some of these are activities you can do with the kids. While that’s not ideal, it’s sometimes a necessity. My husband and I only get out without the children a couple times a year because we don’t have reliable babysitters or family nearby. It’s a reality!
Ten Non-Romantic, Low-Pressure Date Ideas
1- Have an Adventure Date (+ kid-friendly)
Experts agree, doing something that gives you an adrenaline rush boosts your sexual arousal and helps with bonding. Plus, let’s be honest, many of our loved ones abused drugs- they like the rush! Doing something with you that gives them that same rush will help them associate feeling good with being with you.
Some ideas of things you could do on an adventure date would be:
Zip-Lining (for the timid ones)
Go to an Amusement Park
Go Rock Climbing (even indoors!)
Skydiving (you crazy!)
Trampoline Park (hello, Skyzone!)
Trapeze Lessons (husband, are you reading this? I want to do this one!
2- Take a Dance Class
Dancing is all about working in tandem. To dance together, you have to be able to communicate. You have to touch one another. You have to get out of the house and turn off Netflix. Taking a dance class is a great way to break the sexual ice and work on your communication. In fact, I think it’s better than therapy as far as rebuilding connection goes (don’t tell your therapist I said so).
The type of class you take will have different effects on your relationship, so be mindful of what kind of class you take.
For example, I would not take a Latin dance class with my husband because for one, I feel it would be an excuse for him to be grabby (grabbier!) and two, he grew up dancing that way and always tells me I cannot dance (ahem, yes I can. I just happen to be more of a ballet, tap, contemporary, waltz type of dancer). Dancing like that with him always makes me feel bad. I would rather take a class for a style of dance that was new for us both.
Ideas of dance classes you could take together:
Latin dance classes (Tango, Rumba, Mambo, Samba, Cha-Cha)
Formal dance classes (Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep)
Retro dance classes (Swing! Think, the Boogie Woogie, the Jive, the Bop)
Hip Hop/Funk dance classes
Exercise dance classes (Zumba, Barre, if you’re in NYC you can take Broadway dance classes)
3- Go on an Intellectual Date
Need something to talk about? Can’t go wrong with art, dinosaurs or history! Head to your closest museum for the day.
We’re spoiled here in New York because we have a lot of museums but I haven’t been to many of them! We always have the kids with us and I don’t have the luxury to appreciate what we’re seeing. So for me, that would be a great date.
Spend the day in a museum, go out after for coffee and have a walk in the park or have a quiet dinner in a dark corner.
Wear your glasses. Ooh la la.
Most museums are fairly inexpensive to visit so this could potentially be a very cost-efficient date if your budget is tight!
4- Take them to a Concert for Music… YOU Like
Your date doesn’t have to be on Valentines Day. I boycotted concerts for a long time because my husband always wanted to go to rock concerts and I wasn’t comfortable with him there.
I remember once we were at Blues Fest music festival in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and he wanted to see The Red Hot Chili Peppers. At the time, he was not drinking or smoking cigarettes and the second everyone else in our crowd grabbed a drink and a cigarette, so did he. He wanted to be like everyone else.
I had been so happy to be out without the kids! Until then.
The rest of the evening was ruined for me. I was miserable. Of course, no one else around me understood why I would so upset about one beer and a couple cigarettes but he knew. I didn’t even like the Red Hot Chili peppers! Never have.
I spent the remainder of the evening near the back of the crowd, my brother and his girlfriend were sweet and tried to stay near me but I was doing my best to stay away from my husband. Made for an awkward evening.
Music is good though, there’s a reason the devil uses it so heavily to influence people. So I wouldn’t boycott concerts entirely. Instead, go to one where you will feel good (alcohol-free if you need to! #Christianmusicfestival, yes there is such a thing). Hillsong conferences are amazing, I saw the Newsboys many years ago, Reliant K (ha!).
We had tickets to see Justin Bieber and then he cancelled his tour (NO!). He was also in our church last Sunday while we all had the stomach flu (NO!). One day, my friend. One day. I am certain the Biebs and I are destined to be best friends for life. We grew up super close to one another, and now he frequently visits five minutes from my house, same church, come on!
I took my husband to see Kari Jobe and it was too far left- so maybe not that. Use your judgement!
5- See a Movie
Don’t underestimate the power of a good, old-fashioned movie date. There’s a reason it’s a tried and true favourite. There is minimal talking, it gets you out of the house, you can eat greasy, buttery popcorn- what’s not to love?!
6- Be a Tourist in Your (Closest) City (+ kid-friendly)
Grab your camera, better yet, grab your Polaroid camera! You can buy one for cheap on Amazon here.
Go to a tourist center and ask them what the best things are to see.
Make up a story, you are Lucy and Ricky from Chicago and yes, you know your names are ridiculous. You are a professional art restorer and he is a structural engineer. These are your children, Charlie and Sally, and yes, you named them after the Peanuts cartoon.
You don’t have to lie, but it might be fun to “get into character”.
When you’re finished with your date, you will have a handful of pictures to remember your day by. Hang them up on a string and keep it as a reminder of your fun date! It’ll be good for you both.
7- Go Roller Skating or Roller Blading (+ kid-friendly)
If you have a place near you to go rolling, give it a go! It’s very low-pressure. Have a burger and fries with a milkshake or dairy-free lemonade.
I have been eyeing these roller skates on Amazon for a long time now, I’d love to take out the whole family and go rolling in the park. I mean, I’d love to do it by the beach down a boardwalk but Jesus hasn’t moved us to the sandy shores (yet!).
8- Go Antique or Flea Shopping (+ kid-friendly)
I love a good second-hand shopping trip. It wasn’t my husband’s favourite thing to do but he’s gotten into the fun of it as the years have gone by. The Brooklyn Flea market used to be amazing but the past couple years, I haven’t loved it. It’s become very expensive and mostly new or handmade items, not true antiquing. Finding something old and making it look brand-new is half the fun!
If you’re in the New York/New Jersey area and know if some awesome second-hand store or true antique markets, please let me know in the comments below! As of now, I still do all of my antiquing in Canada! Fitting our treasures into our SUV for the nine hour drive home can be a problem.
Finding something old and making a little project for you both could be a lot of fun. It’s good for your communication and for you to work as a team.
9- Cook Together
Instead of going out for Valentine’s Day, make a four or five course meal!
Start with soup, then an appetizer, a salad, your main course and then desert. Making the food together will help with your communication and team work, accomplishing (or ruining) the meal together will help you bond and making the food takes the pressure off them having to lick the desert off you. In case you don’t want that. Just sayin’.
10- Go to a Library or bookstore and pick your presents
Hear me out here, no one fights in a library.
Instead of buying flowers that die and chocolate that goes straight to your hips, buy a plant instead and eat the chocolate, who cares! No, that’s not what I was trying to say (but seriously, eat the chocolate).
Go to a library and pick one another a book you think the other will like. Even if they don’t read books (my husband doesn’t) there is always something that can peak one’s interest. There’s a reason the book industry has lasted for hundreds of years without change!
You don’t even have to buy the books. Find them, sit in the store and skim through them. Barnes and Noble has plenty of magazines for the avid non-reader.
No one fights in Barnes and Noble.
The point is to have a peaceful, stress-free, low-pressure, bonding experience.
With all these ideas, you may find you have trouble. You might get into arguments, even in the most carefully planned situations- even in Barnes and Noble (you know it’s bad when…).
Keep trying! Don’t give up. Have all your arguments in libraries, I’ll bet it will be the quietest fight you’ll ever have.
My kids and I have a funny rule (we need to remind one another of) when we’re angry, we have to whisper our angry words. By the time we’ve said three or four sentences, we’re all laughing so much no one is angry anymore.
If you do get into an argument, it’s not a lost day. Be proud you got out and both tried! If they went with you, they want to repair things too. Remember that. Think of your time together as a heart-softening exercise- not perfect, but it’s a start.
It’s all over- you have a whole year before you have to try this again!