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Don’t Let Recession Bring Valentine’s Day Depression

Hub City News, Commentary, Ronald M. Ellerbe Posted: Feb 14, 2009

Financial strains can leave some couples thinking about something other than romance. Here are some tips on how to keep the love alive even when money is tight.

When it comes to making ends meet during a recession, the Valentine’s Day celebration can be as financially challenging for one’s personal cash flow as buying gifts during the Christmas season.

Valentine’s Day is a traditional observance, when people from all walks of life throughout the world express their love for one another by sending cards, presenting flowers, or offering confectionery of “sweets” or other gifts symbolizing their affection.

As a youth, I use to love the week of February 14 because it gave me the opportunity to present cards and love messages to young ladies who I secretly admired. Unfortunately, since presenting the cards did little to convince the young ladies to return my affections, Valentine’s Day was, at times, very disappointing. It was not until long after graduation from public school that I learned by experience that presenting Valentine’s Day cards with flowers or candies triggered a more rewarding romantic response to my flirting with the opposite sex.

Now that I am married, Valentine’s Day is still no financial walk in the park because the wife not only expects a card, candy, and flowers, but she wants to go out to dinner, too. So the question is: How to keep your recession-strained marriage or relationship mutually rewarding this Valentine's Day.

In the current recession, more people are losing their jobs while workplace survivors find their job responsibilities increasing. The recession is often not limited to one family member, either.

“When one spouse is laid off or is working harder and longer, that may throw an already rocky marriage into the gravel pit and put a strong marriage to the test,” says David Coleman, an author and professional speaker known as the Dating Doctor. “When you come home from work that evening and tell your spouse that you’re without a job, with no income after two weeks, and you’re not sure how you will pay your bills, the last thing on your mind is making love to each other in celebration of Valentine’s Day.”

Coleman says that “strong marriages can survive this recession.”

“It does not matter whether it is spending money for birthdays, Christmas or Valentine’s Day, the attitude should be: ‘Let’s do this together,’” Coleman says. “

There are also low-cost expenditures and activities that couples can do to keep a relationship or marriage fun and fresh, even when there’s less money available. For example, you can go on a romantic date that involves walking along the beach or in the park — not spending a lot of money. See a movie at a theater that charges less. Or rent a romantic movie and spend a quiet evening on the couch at home. If you want to go out to eat, pick a non-expensive restaurant you both enjoy, say McDonalds or Jack-in-the-Box. (Just kidding!).

Another idea in making financial ends meet on Valentine’s Day is to think of little gifts. Go to the dollar store and buy little gifts that say something about your sweetheart. Buy a candle for a romantic meal. Buy a book or magazine that your spouse enjoys. Buy a snack or candy that your spouse likes. Do you need a new can opener in the house? Buy that, too. Now wrap each gift individually. Put all the wrapped gifts in a big box, and wrap that too. Both of you will have fun as she opens each gift — and your total expenditure will be small.

“People are looking for simplicity during these tough economic times,” Coleman says. He suggests re-creating one of your early dates. In those days, you didn’t have much money anyway, so going to the same restaurant or doing the same thing (roller-skating, ice skating, going to the zoo or the park, going to a high school or college basketball game, etc.) won’t cost much money.

The bottom line is when it comes to celebrating Valentine's Day, the most important gifts that you can give are the gifts of love, commitment and relationship throughout the month and years to come!

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