Healthy Relationship Practices: Gifts of Love That Cost (Next to) Nothing

Written by: Jorinde Berben
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It’s Valentine’s Day today, and whether you celebrate it or not, one day a year to commemorate the importance of love seems incredibly insufficient. Still, it’s better than nothing, and it gives me a good excuse to talk about love once more (though in some way or another, love seems to be the bottom line of most of my posts).

Today I want to give some ideas for ways to surprise your loved one in the way that will make them feel most loved. To do that, you want to first figure out what your partner’s love language is. Take a look at this post on the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman to get a clue of your own love language and the love language of your partner. Chances are your partner will appreciate all of the gestures below, but some might touch them more deeply than others.

The gifts below are not just physical gifts. Physical gifts are one kind of love language, but there are 4 more that may be more important to your partner. So whether it’s Valentine’s Day, or any other day of the year in which you want to express your love for your partner in an original way (I suggest doing this as often as possible), here are some tips to get you started:

3 gifts that contain Words of Affirmation

To people with this love language, what you say matters most of all. It’s important to express your love out loud as often as you can, but also to compliment them and reassure them when needed.
Do you feel like surprising your partner? Here are some ideas:

  • Write an old-fashioned love letter to your partner and send it through the mail. Use beautiful stationary, a page out of an old book or decorate your paper with stickers, drawings and spray some perfume over it (women love the scent of men’s perfume as well). Say what you would say if someone asked you why you love this person so deeply, and how they make you feel.
  • Find songs that match how you feel about your partner and create a playlist just for them. You can put old favorites on it and new discoveries, perhaps pulling some verses from the lyrics to send along with the playlist.
  • Look up some poems that express how you feel, or if you are talented in that way, write one yourself. Create a special moment (candles, soft music) and recite the poem to your significant other.

3 gifts that contain Quality Time

For people who have Quality Time as their love language, attention means presence. Doing something together doesn’t mean doing something ‘next to each other’. It means finding a moment in which you two are fully engaged with each other at the same time. You don’t have to go on an expensive weekend trip to make that possible. Why not try one of these tips?

  • Get some old photo albums out (or make a slide show on your computer) and go on a trip through memory lane with your loved one. You can show them what your childhood was like, or ask about theirs, or you could go through your previous years together or reminisce about when your children were young.
  • Make plans together. Get some brochures from a travel agency, if you like to travel, and go through them together. Or walk through your home and make plans on how to improve it. Or look at the year ahead and make plans to celebrate your love together. Looking forward together creates stability, safety and helps create the life you both want to live (or both like to dream about).
  • Go for a walk. In these Covid-times, walks have become a basic way to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. Go for a walk out in the forest or on the beach, or walk through a city center near you. Just remember to stay focussed on your partner. This is not the time to visit your friends who happen to live a few blocks away.

3 Gifts that are material Gifts

When asked what to give your loved one for Valentine’s Day, or any other romantic milestone such as an anniversary, we often hear people say things like ‘chocolate’, ‘flowers’, ‘lingerie’ or ‘jewelry’. But there are many gifts we can give that can be meaningful, thoughtful and cost barely anything. These three suggestions are just to get you started:

  • Find a rock with a smooth surface and draw or write something personal on it. ‘You’re my rock’ or ‘You rock my world’ are cute quotes to put on it. But just a small, red heart or another symbol that shows that you’re love is as solid as this stone, can be very meaningful as well.
  • Pick a bouquet of wildflowers, or beautiful branches, or make a collection of sea shells; anything that looks beautiful and brings nature into the home. Knowing that you went out to look for this and thought of your loved one shows how much attention you devote to them.
  • Fold something out of origami that is meaningful to your partner or your relationship. Again, it’s the attention you put into this little gift that makes all the difference, the effort it took. This site shows you how to make a beautiful origami heart, but it could also be a traditional crane, the symbol of good fortune and longevity you wish you bestow upon your relationship.

3 gifts that contain Acts of Service

For an act of service to be a surprise gift, it must be something you would not do every day or every week. It should be something that makes your partner’s life easier, more beautiful or just more pleasant in general. Here are some ideas, but I’m sure you can think of specific ones that would suit your relationship:

  • Look at your partner’s morning routine, and find ways to make it easier and nicer. Do they eat breakfast? Set the table the night before. Do they need coffee first thing in the morning? Get everything ready and put out their favorite cup. Giving your partner an awesome morning will help set the tone for the rest of the day.
  • Cook your partner’s favourite meal. When my partner cooks for me (as he is doing tonight), I feel incredibly loved, and it’s one of the ways I show my love as well. Extra bonus points if you cook enough to have left-overs the next day so you save them a day of cooking duty (unless they really love to cook, then you might not want to take that pleasure away from them).
  • Take note of the things that irritate your partner around the house. Is there a tap that keeps leaking? Is their wardrobe a total mess? Do they never get round to getting the car serviced? Plan time for these tasks when your partner isn’t expecting it. Important: when you have finished these, don’t go asking for a grand applause. Doing something for your partner out of love is not a transaction. It’s giving, without any expectation of a return on investment.

3 gifts that contain Physical Touch

I hope I don’t have to tell you that the bedroom is a place for giving as well as for taking or receiving. If you don’t know how to give to your partner sexually, go do your homework. Just make sure to always trust your own boundaries when doing so. No one says you HAVE TO do anything you don’t want to do.
There are, however, a lot of other ways in which you can give your partner the gift of physical touch, that don’t involve sexual touch.

  • Give your partner a massage. Take time to make the room warm and cosy. Heat up some body oil and put on some relaxing music. Massages are a great way to relieve stress. The massage can turn into lovemaking, or it may not. That’s not the point of it and there should not be any pressure. Make this clear, if it’s needed. The point is to help your partner feel soothed, relaxed and loved through your focused and gentle touch. If they fall asleep during the massage, you can rest assure you’ve done a wonderful job.
  • Dance together. Put on your partner’s favorite love song and invite them for some slow dancing. Feel free to stroke your partner’s back, arms, head while dancing, or kiss if you feel like it. Dancing is a way to get into our bodies and come home to each other.
  • Have a tickling match or pillow fight. Playful wrestling, tickling and pillow fighting are fun at any age. And yes, it may seem a little ridiculous or scary at first, but if you start gently, you might end up in a lot more excitement and joy than you thought possible. Laughing together is a great way to build connection, and it’s just wonderful to act like the joyful children we all still carry with us inside.

These are just some simple ideas to express love in all of the 5 love languages. Do you have any more? I’d love to hear what you thought and if you tried out any of the above already.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful day of love, whether it’s romantic, in friendship, in family or at work. ❤

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