The National Holiday lineup can sometimes feel like running through a gauntlet where everything is connected and one neglected step triggers chaotic madness for whoever is running. We’ve had a few of these holiday gauntlet runs over the years. Some are filled with incredible joys and others with deep disappointment. For example, there was the Christmas where I surprised Brittanny with an original 1846 printing of a book she didn’t even know she wanted but loves! There was also the Christmas where I gave her a Crock-pot. One Christmas was joyous, the other I was smacked out of the running by the swinging pendulum. Hit and miss has been the name of the game over the years. However, at this point we feel like we’ve hit a sweet spot in walking the line of expectations and wanted to offer a few ideas that have been helpful in enhancing our national romantic holiday experience.1 Communicate your Hopes, Dreams, and Expectations – This is mainly for the ladies but each of us has expectations. It’s best to sit over a nice cup of coffee and share what would be a great Valentine’s Day experience and contrast that with what would lead to some secret crying. This is the grand opportunity to express what would lead to an enjoyable or disappointing experience. Let me state that again, please express the events, gifts, and words that would lead to an unhappy Valentine’s Day. It’s best to get on the same page with each other. We call this communication and oftentimes it’s a neglected art form. Neither Britt or I is a mind reader, we’re guessing you aren’t either. Once this key step is in place you can begin planning an excellent Valentine’s Date Night. 2 Drop your Hopes, Dreams, and Expectations – After all the desires have been shared, the sharer should then dump out their giant box of expectations. This may sound trite but we think this is the key to marriage and has been one of the most helpful bits of advice we have received over the years. High expectations seem to breed a deserving mentality (“I deserve…”), we would rather like to cultivate thankful hearts within our family and marriage (“I didn’t deserve such a sweet gift, night, experience…I’m so thankful”). This doesn’t mean we don’t go all out this Valentine’s Day but it does mean we’re fully aware that out of 52 date nights in a year, along with several major holidays, one is bound to fall through. A deserving heart gets bitter but a thankful heart simply enjoys the experience of life with your best friend. Which is why the next step is what we champion. 3 Initiative is Key – This is where the fellas usually fall short. Initiative is actually the reason this 52 For Two experiment began. Initiative is the ability to assess (What’s the need?) and initiate independently (What we’re going to do?) and a lack in this element seems to be what leads to most disappointments in marriage. In preparing for Valentine’s Day, take some time during a lunch break, breakfast, or that small bit of time before dinner to ask the two questions above. It will be a small bit of time well invested. 4 Identify your Home-Run Holidays – There are too many major holidays that place way too much pressure on each other to perform perfectly. Our hope this year is to place emphasis on 52 intentional date nights that bring about camaraderie, depth, and build on initiative and creativity. We simply want to have a few Home-Run holidays that we go all out for. Ours are Christmas, Birthdays, and our Anniversary. It could be helpful to identify yours. 5 Keep it Clever – This doesn’t mean Britt and I are off the hook for Valentine’s Day but it does mean that there’s a lot less pressure. Clever and creative are some lost adjectives in married life and we’re looking to redeem them. Clever doesn’t always mean expensive, either. This Valentine’s Day will be pretty frugal but hopefully sweet and memorable.
What are we doing? Well, I guess that means you’ll have to come back later to find out.