We're not that complicated. We're really not. All any of us really wants from a partner is some effort. Think about it. Any annoyance you've ever had with your loved one probably boiled down to effort. If she'd listened, if he'd asked, if she'd cared, if he'd showered…it's all effort.
And really that's all Valentine's Day is, a reminder to make a little effort on behalf of the person you care about. And since this Valentine's Day falls on a weekend, you've got a full day of opportunity.
Here are nine things you can do for your Valentine that will mean more and cost less than a fancy box of chocolates.
9 cheap ways to celebrate Valentine's Day
When you work, when you have a family, when you live a life, you have to make so many decisions a day. Sometimes the most romantic thing anyone can say to you is, "Don't worry about it. I'm taking care of it."
Don't go Fifty Shades of Grey on your wife, but maybe go Ten Shades of Grey. Send her outside with a glass of wine and a book (unless it's cold – don't send her out in the cold) and tell her you'll come get her when dinner is ready. It doesn't matter if you order in or cook it, it matters that you take care of it.
2. Do it somewhere new
Have a picnic on the porch. Bring him coffee in bed. Watch a movie from a pallet on the living room floor. Have dinner on the table Jake Ryan style. There is something exciting about small changes. The littlest break from monotony can spark an entirely different experience.
3. Fix your partner's dysfunction
Find a small solution to a small problem your partner faces. Maybe she has a long commute and you could download some podcasts to pass the time. If he's always losing keys, you could hang a key hook by the door. Buy phone chargers for each room so she won't lose them or get the kitchen knives sharpened so he won't slice his fingers while hacking carrots to death. We don't take the time to do the little things that would make our life a little easier. Wouldn't it be nice if someone else did it for us?
4. Whisper sweet nothings
Or write them down and make them sweet somethings instead of nothings. Don't underestimate the power of sincere compliments. Appreciation is one of the best gifts we have to give and receive. Make a list of ten specific things you really appreciate about your partner and share it with him.
5. Increase your drive
Mixed tapes forever! Make a great playlist that speaks to your history together and take your partner for a drive.
6. Video it
We all have ten thousand photos and videos sitting on our computers with future dreams of actually doing something with them. Take the time to make a slide show, order a scrapbook or just organize your couple/family photos by folders. Can you imagine if someone organized all my photos?! It would be a new kind of freedom.
7. Set the right mood
The right mood is clean. Clean the bedroom. Change the sheets. Scrub the tub. It doesn't matter how many candles you light if they're shining light on your pile of dirty socks or make up.
8. Do that thing you never do
You know that thing, the one your partner always asks you to do and you never get around to it. Make a doctor's appointment to get that mole checked, look into refinancing the house, shred the two year old pile of bills. Maybe it's not as romantic as the Kama Sutra but the moment will last longer.
9. Make a game of it
When was the last time you had game night? Dust off the old Monopoly, pull out the deck of cards, remind yourself how to play chicken foot with dominoes, and have fun with your partner.
It's not the thing that matters, it's the effort it takes to do the thing.
Happy Valentine's Day!