3 ways to say “I love you” this Valentine’s Day (no matter your budget or season!)

Our first Valentine’s Day together, Jordan was 16 and his driver’s license was so new he couldn’t even legally take me anywhere! So let’s just say we had lots of living room dates that year! From then on, we spent most Valentine’s in the gym at a basketball game or working around an evening practice. I think we had two glorious, basketball free Valentine’s Days together before adding a baby to the mix. So this year we’ve got a new challenge to make the most of the love holiday in a new season with new circumstances. Will we still make it a priority? Of course! If it were up to Jordan, Valentine’s Day would probably be just like any other day, but I LOVE making a big deal out of the small things. He knows this about me and he works hard to love me well, so it’s not a question of “if” we’ll be celebrating this Thursday, but “how”?! If you’ve been following along here for a while you probably think, “this girl is obsessed with dating!” It’s kind of true! You can read all about why I think it’s so important here, but long story short: it is a privilege to be the one to love your people well. Why not take advantage of an opportunity to do so on a day that’s all about it? 

One of the only pictures of us that we have from that year… good times! 😉

Pursuing the one you love shouldn’t end once you’re dating or engaged or married… Remember, that man was your boyfriend first and just because he might be your husband now and your plate might be wayyy more full than it was back in the day (and maybe you even have a mini valentine or a few now) doesn’t mean the days of dating each other are over. They’re only beginning! It may just look a little different and require a little more creativity. That’s why I’m here to help! We’ve dated each other a few times over the past 10+ years. Enough times that I can barely remember how we spent last Valentine’s Day! So this is what I want to encourage you with, you can love each other well whether you have a lot of time, money & resources, or a little. We’ve celebrated under “all of the above” circumstances and it really doesn’t matter. A little love goes a long ways! It’s the gesture; making it a priority to remind your person that they are valuable and cared for and desired enough for you to go out of your way to show them… that’s what matters! 

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I mean, will anything be able to top this blurry, living room floor, Valentine’s date of 2011?! Probably not 😉

Here’s 3 ways to maximize thoughtfulness and love well this Valentine’s Day 

(no matter what season of life you’re in or what budget you’re workin’ with!)

Start with the Love Languages! 

There have been years I probably spent more than we had because I wanted to buy Jordan the perfect gift. Receiving gifts is his second to last Love Language. It’s just not how he feels most loved. So while he was grateful to be thought of and appreciative of the present, something else could’ve been just as impactful in making him feel loved (the whole point!) He most appreciates Acts of Service and Quality Time so these days, I usually try to create a memory by planning a date or an activity that I know will bless him. If I do gift him something, I try to take into account what will be sentimental or useful to him so that the gift carries meaning. Otherwise, it’s just not what he truly loves. It’s all about using your resources intentionally. Why waste your time and money trying to top yourself from the last holiday when you can work smarter, not harder?! 😉  

If you don’t know their Love Language, casually bring it up at dinner tonight and suggest you take the assessment together, “just for fun!” If they get suspicious, you can use me as your out… tell them I told you to do it! Ha ha! (Here’s the link!)

Brainstorming in terms of your significant other’s Love Language is a great way to narrow down a plan if you’re like me and feel like you’ve already used up all your creative ideas!


Consider the season you’re in!

There have been times in our marriage that we were hardly EVER home. So in those days, a night in sounded like the best date night I could imagine. Lately, I spend a lot of my time here with our baby so when Jordan plans a baby free night out for us (or lets be honest, even a whole family outing away from the house) it’s the best thing ever! Loving and being loved in a way that says, “I see where you’re at in life right now and I want to love you through it” means the world. It makes someone feel seen and known and important! Another great example of this is how Jordan surprised me with new work out clothes and a gym membership a couple months after I had Finnley. He saw that I needed to prioritize myself and my own well being more and he helped me do it in a fun way! Considering what is happening in their world and what might speak to the state of their heart is a sure way to give a meaningful gesture. 

Sometimes the season you’re in impacts what you’re able to do (financially, time wise, etc….) That’s just life and it doesn’t have to keep you from doing anything. One year, for Jordan’s birthday, our finances were tight and I knew that something grand wouldn’t bless him because it would make him feel stressed. So instead, I cooked him one of his favorite meals at home, rented a movie, and built a fort in our living room. It spoke to his Love Languages and it was SO fun! Another time, when Finnley was newly born and all our family had gone away, we were both feeling exhausted and overwhelmed and just bummed. Jordan sent me off to a long nap while he cared for Finnley and when I woke up, he’d set up a camp out inside the house! He made the most of our current situation and thought of a way to create a positive memory when we needed it! 

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The place we’ve spent most our Valentine’s Days!



Think Sentimental!

It’s way easier to hit it out of the park with your Valentine’s gesture when your actions are meaningful. For our 10 year anniversary, there weren’t a ton of extra funds for a celebration. Jordan thought about my Love Languages and what’s important to me; he put himself in my shoes, considered our current season and planned a photo shoot for our new little family. We went all around to cute places on a beautiful day and snapped lasting memories of ourselves with our new baby. It was so fun to look back through those photos and compare them to the few photos we have from 10 years earlier and I know I’ll always cherish the pictures and memories from that day! When we were in college, Jordan went to Alaska to work for the summer so that he could come back and buy me an engagement ring. I wanted to send him away with a special gesture for the time he was gone and the special days we’d miss together. I put together a countdown book and each page held memories from our relationship, ticket stubs from dates, pictures, verses and quotes… It was a gift that was more meaningful than anything I could’ve bought for Jordan at that time and I know we’ll show our kids that book some day. 

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Our 10 year anniversary photo day with our mini valentine!

Even though these are pretty specific and personal examples, I hope they spark some creativity in you! If the one you love doesn’t love gifts or they’re hard to plan for around the holidays, think sentimental! Any gift or date or love note or act of service can say “I love you” and will be meaningful if it carries sentimental value to them. 

If you’re still at a loss and drawing a blank…

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are some ways you’ve made them feel extra loved in the past? Is there a theme? 
  • Has it been a while since you’ve done something for them that you know they’d appreciate again or something that makes them feel extra special that you could repeat?
  • How have they communicated what might be meaningful for them lately? 

There’s really no limitation on loving each other – we just have to put in the effort. Ask your friends for ideas they’ve used before. Pinterest is full of fun, out of the box inspiration (I have a whole board of ideas just for Jordan – it’s secret though, for obvious reasons 😉 ). Be intentional and make your Valentine feel extra special this year. I promise it’ll be worth it!

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