Valentine’s Day is coming up this week and for many instead of feeling excited about a romantic evening, they feel pressure!  Feeling trepidations about a highly publicized day of romance is definitely understandable.  But on the other hand, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for couples to strengthen their relationship. That in and of itself is valuable but from a financial planner’s point of view, it’s also an investment.

People who are married for the long term are wealthier.  Researcher’s from Ohio State’s Human Resource Research found that divorce reduces a person’s wealth by 77% (compared to a single person) but a person who is married for the long term had 93% more wealth then the single person.  This was much more than just adding two people’s wealth together.  There is definitely a financial case for staying married.

As all of us who are in long term committed relationships know, it takes work.  Valentine’s Day is one of those golden opportunity days each year where a little effort goes a long way (another day is your loved one’s birthday, of course). My husband and I usually celebrate Valentine’s Day with flowers arriving for me and some mushy cards opened before a candlelight dinner at home (my husband is an amazing cook).  One year, I was having a tough time in my life – I don’t remember the circumstances — and on Valentine’s Day a huge (I mean massive) beautifully wrapped gift basket was placed in front of me.  It included all kinds of pampering things that I love.

Since I can never turn off the financial planner in me, I started to mentally add up the items and thought to myself, “This must have cost a fortune.”  I remember looking up at my husband with a tear flowing down my cheek and said, “I really need this.  Thank you so much.”

Whatever he spent that year was well worth it.  He made an investment in our relationship that I remember to this day and it was probably 10 years ago.  If he did that every year, it would fall flat but a well timed gift with some thought behind it hit the mark.

How can you hit the mark this year with your loved one?  First consider what THEY like to receive and not necessarily what you like to give.  A few years back, I read a book called the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  The premise is that we all speak a different language when it comes to expressing love.  The five love languages he highlights are:

Words of Affirmation — Acts of Service –Physical Touch–Quality Time–Receiving Gifts

Some people are gift givers – they love to give and receive gifts while others give service, they like to do things for others.  A guy who speaks the language of service may fix a leaky faucet and change the oil in the car for his wife who may be a “gift lover” and not realize that he is saying “You are super important to me.”

Think about which one your loved one might be then give them a gift, do something for them, spend time with them, hold their hand or whatever it is THEY like.  In other words, if you are an “act of service” kind of a guy and your special someone is a”receiving gifts” kind of person, then pick up something in a little box with a bow on it.  If your special someone is a “quality time” person, that gift will fall flat.  Instead, plan an adventure together doing something they particularly like such as hiking or going to a museum. Have no clue? You can take a “love language” test here.

The main point is whatever you do, it will most likely be worth it.