As we approach another Valentine’s Day, my heart aches for all the strained marriages I know about. Addictions, financial pressures, physical and mental illnesses, and a host of other factors can combine to make Valentine’s Day hard to bear. You might feel like you are supposed to do something to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but a strained wallet or relationship can make it hard to buy something to celebrate or to even feel like celebrating. You might think of all your expectations through the years that have been dashed. If that’s the case, I hope you will take a big breath right now, and then remember that you can’t change what has happened in the past, but you can turn over your troubles to the Savior for healing and move forward with faith in Him, trusting that better times will come.
I suggest two blog posts written by Diane Hopkins to help in the “how to celebrate married love on Valentine’s Day” department. As a wife, mom, and grandma, Diane has a lot of experience. Show this blog post to your husband, read it yourself, and then talk about your expectations for Valentine’s Day. She has instructions for both husbands and wives. Let each other off the hook to buy a gift if money is lacking and acknowledge that you can both create something from what you already have around the house, whether it be a favorite meal, a night playing a game or baking cookies, a poem, or even a foot rub.
If you are a wife, go read this post by Diane to help you show appreciation for your husband more, every day of the year.
Having said that, here are ten+ ideas for Valentine Married Date Nights that I hope will help if you need a free date night idea this weekend, or something that can be done even if your relationship is strained.
1. Go to the temple. Healing is found in the temple. I loved the Renlunds’ presentation from the Family Discovery Day that explained this so well. Watch it here. Elder Renlund taught his family about the healing water mentioned in Ezekiel 47. He said this is symbolic of the healing power that comes to our families when we engage in family history research and temple work. As we participate in family history research and temple work, we will receive more and more of this healing power to flow through our lives constantly.
2. Make a healthy treat together and then eat it while you do my next two ideas (see #2 and #3 below). Here are some ideas for healthy treats
- Diane Hopkins’ Healthy Chocolate Bark (I made this two weeks ago and it was divine!)
- my sugar free chocolate over here, which is similar to Diane’s above, with bigger quantities
- popcorn, just in case you didn’t think of that already, 🙂 and aren’t being low carb. I’ve decided that a low carb alternative to popcorn is kale chips. They are crunchy and salty so they taste just as good, plus they are better for you because they have more nutrients! So now I don’t have to feel like I am missing out when my family has popcorn. I know it may be weird to think of something green as delicious as popcorn but it’s true!
- more ideas for healthy treats are here in this other blog post of mine
3. If you can’t afford the standard dinner and a movie, fix an early dinner of something you know you both love. Get the kids watching a movie in one room, and the two of you go watch something in another room. Dh and I have had lots of dates this way. The kids will watch something in the family room with the TV and DVD player, and we go watch something on the laptop in the bedroom. Here are five romantic movies that are actually about married love, which is what I am wanting to watch these days:
a. War Room. The trailer for it appears above. You can rent it from vidangel.com, then sell it back at the end, and the total cost is $1! I love, love, love this movie because it fills a void in the movie world. There are hardly any clean, uplifting, wholesome movies about life after marriage, and how to deal with the struggles that come. It also shows the power of prayer and the power of mentoring. It is good on so many levels!
b. A Song of Love. This classic old-time movie starring Katharine Hepburn tells the true love story of Robert and Clara Schumann, both talented pianists and composers. It’s a beautiful story about talent, passion, and supporting each other’s mission in marriage.
C. Fireproof. Has anyone not seen this yet? Another great movie about overcoming threats to married love, namely a husband’s addiction to porn.
d. Yours, Mine, and Ours
Some blog readers reminded me of this movie last year when I asked for a good movie about married love for Valentine’s Day. I had seen it in high school but in those younger, immature days I didn’t fully appreciate it! It’s a great movie with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. In the movie, their characters each lose a spouse and then get married and create a blended family. Then they go on to have children together. It’s based on a true story. The above clip shows the dad, played by Fonda, explaining what real love is when one of the daughters feels pressured by a boyfriend to sleep with him.
e. A Vow to Cherish
This one is so awesome!
It’s about sticking to marital vows even when illness comes. See my review here.
3. I have been lamenting that it’s hard to find “entertainment” for my date nights that are about married love, real life, and family love. It all started a year ago on last Valentine’s Day and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. i guess it’s my type-4 energy coming out (just Google Carol Tuttle’s energy types if you don’t know that term). At my 40+ years I am not wanting to waste time on fluff or garbage portrayed by Hollywood actors that has no bearing on my real life.
As you can see, I have found a few more movies about married love, as shown above. I have also found an even better media choice that was right under my nose. A few Sunday nights ago I was making some cookies, as I listened to the Mormon Channel on my phone. I found an episode in “Mormon Identities” about Pres. and Sister Richard Walker. Sister Walker is Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley’s daughter. It is a second marriage for both of them and they are serving a mission in England as temple president and matron. They told the delightful story of how they started courting because one of their daughters set them up. As I listened to this, I realized, this is what I am looking for, stories of how real love unfolds in real life in unexpected places for real people. Specifically, real people who are committed to covenant-based love, not convenient, come-as-you-go-pleasure that masquerades as real love.
So for idea #3, listen to the stories on Mormon Channel about real life people in the Church, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, who have committed themselves to covenant-based marriage. Find a puzzle, a craft, or some project you can work on together or separately while you listen. Or you could listen while you make the above-mentioned treat! You can find these stories in the Mormon Channel programs called “Mormon Identities” and “Conversations.” Look for the episodes that feature married couples, like Linda and Richard Eyre.
4. While you do your craft, puzzle, or handiwork project, you can also read or listen to the following words from these Presidents of the LDS Church about true love in marriage, family love, and temple and family history work. Look in the Teachings of the Presidents Manuals, which are found on lds.org and in the LDS Gospel library app. I enjoy hearing the stories at the beginning of each section about each man falling in love with his wife. (Interesting family history note, the first wife of Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith, Louie Emily Shurtliff, was my grandpa’s first cousin. I didn’t know that until a few years ago when I discovered the joys of family history research.) We will be listening to these as we drive to and from the temple today!
Pres. Joseph Smith
Pres. Brigham Young
Pres. John Taylor
Pres. Wilford Woodruff
Pres. Joseph F. Smith
Pres. Heber J. Grant
Pres. George Albert Smith
Pres. David O. McKay
Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith
Pres. Harold B. Lee
Pres. Spencer W. Kimball
Pres. Ezra Taft Benson
Pres. Howard W. Hunter
5. Get this couple’s massage course as a Valentine’s Day Gift for you dh, watch together, and then practice on each other. The creators promise there is nothing in this video course that goes beyond a PG rating. If you sign up for the newsletter (the offer that pops up eventually when you first go to the web site) you will get some free how-to videos emailed to you. You can also find lots of massage videos on Youtube, but of course, use your spirit of discernment.
6. Go to datingdivas.com, peruse to your heart’s content and find a game. Surely among all of their ideas you will find something that will work. Some of them might make you blush, I admit, but the dating divas always warn you about those with a disclaimer at the very top. These are all ideas for married dates, and they are fun!
7. Play a game like the Bates family does. Gil and Kelly Bates have 19 kids, and have their own TV show called ‘Bringing Up Bates.” I love watching them! They are friends of the Duggars and just as cute, amazing, service-oriented, talented, and fun. Use the same questions that are in these videos, or have your kids come up with some questions earlier in the day, and then one of them can be the moderator.
8. While the kids are watching a movie in the other room, get out the laptop or your smartphone and make a playlist of your favorite romantic music on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, or even Youtube. Then play the playlist while you look at old pictures from your dating, wedding, and newlywed times.
9. While the same music is playing above, get out the old cards, letters, and journal entries you saved from your dating years, if you are a memorabilia saver like me. Read aloud to each other.
11. If you just want to have fun without so many romantic influences, play a game of Jeopardy! or Scrabble, or whatever your favorite game is, electronically or the old-fashioned way. Dh and I actually had a a date or two before we married of playing Jeopardy on his ancient HP computer that had only two colors on the screen. So whenever we play the game now, it takes me back to that sweet time.
Happy Valentine’s Day!