By Dr. Ken Canfield

Hey, dad, what are you giving your wife this year for Valentine’s Day? Ideally, you have plans well under way, but knowing how many men typically operate, consider this your one-week reminder.

I encourage you to pool all your creative energies for that special day with your special one. Go ahead and buy her flowers and/or presents, make dinner reservations, even schedule a weekend getaway. Your creativity will make it special for her.

And if it’s really going to be special, that probably means giving of yourself in some way. Here are some ways to do that:

Give the gift of a day together. A dad named Mark sent us this one. His idea grew out of a belief that this is what wives everywhere are truly looking for … more focused time with their husband! He promised his wife that he’d take a day of vacation on a mutually agreeable day during the two weeks after Valentine’s Day, and make all the arrangements for their kids. (Choosing a school day will likely help.) They spent the entire day together doing whatever she wanted to do. Her reaction was, “Just what I wanted!”

Whatever you plan, spend some time dreaming together. Questions like: What would you like to happen in the next ten years, if anything were possible? If money wasn’t an issue, where would the two of you like to travel? Where would you like to live? What would her dream house be like? Sure, not everything is really possible, but for that time, let no dream be too outlandish.

Take pictures. Whether you spend a whole day out galivanting around or do dinner at a place she enjoys, give some thought to how you can capture a few memories in pictures. Your wife would probably appreciate more photos of just the two of you. Do some funny and some serious. Ask a server or store clerk to snap a few, or arrange to have a friend with a nice camera meet you somewhere.

Speak words of love and encouragement. This is probably what your wife wants more than anything you could buy or wrap up. I know it isn’t easy to generate love poetry just because February 14th is coming up. But you don’t have to be Shakespeare. Here are suggestions:

  • Do a top ten list of the moments with her that you’ll remember forever.
  • Write a prayer for her.
  • Tell her how young and beautiful she is—before she asks.
  • Repeat your wedding vows.
  • Tell her specific reasons why you’re proud of her. Praise her with statements that start out: “You are…” and “You deserve…”
  • Tell her five reasons why you married her. Revisit the feelings you had—the excitement and anticipation—when you first met.
  • Tell her the five greatest things you’ve learned from her as the two of you have walked along together. I’m sure you’ve grown in some ways because of her presence in your life.
  • Think of five ways that she has supported and encouraged you as a father. Besides just giving credit where credit is due, your devotion as a father will even further cement the bond between you as parenting partners.

Spend some time thinking about these things, and write them down if you want to be sure you remember them. But be sure to verbalize your devotion as you celebrate Valentine’s Day. And don’t just recite a list in a monotone, like you’re fulfilling a homework assignment given to you by some website. These are your heartfelt expressions of devotion to the one you are called to have and to hold, to love and to cherish.

And don’t forget your kids! Check out what we have at giftsfromdad.org to help you express love and devotion to your son and/or daughter.