It’s Valentine’s Day week, and while we here at the NEST don’t believe in a commercialized day of romance, I did think it might be a good time to give you a brief spot of advice. February is a dismal time of year, where spring taunts you with smatterings of rain or above-average temperatures, but generally it’s still dark and miserable outside. The only difference indoors is that you can control the heat and the majority of sitcoms have new episodes. But if you have a special someone in your life, you can remake February into Cuddle Month. Here are some tips for keeping the home fires burning.
STRESS KILLS ROMANCE.
I heard a study done long ago that showed how women and men responded to times of stress. The study—a little too simplistically divided along the genderline, but interesting nonetheless—stated that women will have a reduced sex drive in times of stress, because they biologically recognize this isn’t a good time to be reproducing. For men, the study said, the stress response is the opposite. Apparently on a biological level, men are spurred on to create more babies in a time of stress, to prevent the decimation of the human race. My experience has been that these rules do apply to people, but may not apply to the appropriate gender. You may find yourself, a male, who has no sexual mojo at all, or you may find yourself a gal with a burning desire to grab your mate. Worse yet (and this is my world), both you and your partner may both be the stress-cancels-sex types.
Be aware of your own stress reactions. If you know what’s happening you can consciously take steps to reduce the stress, or at least be able to talk about the romantic lull with your partner. In the meantime, find other things to do with each other that feels like intimate time.
|source: Life as a New Wife|
LITTLE THINGS COUNT.
Remember high school? Remember French kissing at the movie theatre and how awesome that was? As adults, we get very focused on the…ins and outs…of sexual encounters. What a waste of all the wonderful ways we can be close to each other. Try getting really close to your sweetie and not kissing…just feel the electricity. When s/he starts to smile a devious little grin, I guarantee your toes will curl and you’ll feel seventeen again.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE.
What are we supposed to give to a woman to say “I love you” this month? Chocolate and flowers, right? While I am never opposed to gifts of chocolate, this may not be every girl’s deepest desire. Likewise with men: not every guy really gets the big deal with lingerie. This Cuddle Month, try doing something you actually both enjoy. It’s okay if that means going to bed at 9pm after watching old Matlock episodes—it’s your time together, whenever you make it happen throughout the year. Be adaptable, and learn new favourite things to do with each other. The right activity, even one as everyday as going to a museum, can become a special, intimate ritual for the two of you. A trip to the Nature museum with a box of Jr Mints, two headphones in one Ipod, and a secret kissing game everytime an animal has a silly name…now, that’s a hot date.
Touch is crucial in a relationship. Your partner may not be a fan of constant contact, PDA’s, or kissing in the middle of go-go-go days, but a caress on the arm or back can send a wonderful message of love and support. As a task-oriented person, I’m still learning how to do this. I’m putting a lot of effort into reaching out and squeezing Bri’s leg when we’re driving, or ruffling his hair when we’re sitting on the couch. A cautionary note, however: not everyone likes having their hair touched. My rule: no mussing up my hair til 10pm or we’re settled in for the night. Otherwise my 20 minutes of hairspray and hot iron were for naught.
GIVING IS AN ART FORM.
At Christmas, we did a post about the art of gift giving as a guest post on the UsedEverywhere blog. I suggest you reread it. There are many times in a year when we may find ourselves in a position to offer a token of affection to our sweetie; work hard to learn how to do a good job of it. And receivers: learn to show your appreciation. We’re not all the jump-up-and-down-squealing type, but a few extra hugs that day or even an email at work the next morning may be a great way to say thank you and ensure the gifting continues.
|photo by Adam Pap|
Last piece of advice: stop worrying so much. Some people thrive on a date night schedule or gift-giving schedule, or even a ‘cuddle’ schedule. Some people have the natural ability to consistently make time for tender moments. Usually, we fall in love with someone opposite of ourselves. We all need to stop judging and condemning ourselves for not living up to a cultural image of red hearts, satin sheets, and teddy bears. Communication is key, and kindness is crucial. Forgive yourself for sucking if you suck, and forgive your partner too. Then get to work; if you’re like me and Brian, you’ve got nothing but time to practice getting it right.