With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it is time to begin thinking about how to celebrate.

Even if it were not the season for romance, couples must continue dating throughout marriage. It is important for connection, nurturing and romance. It reminds people not to take each other for granted.

Dates lead to many deposits of love and good will in the emotional bank account so that when normal problems arise, it is easier to work through them.

Most couples can figure out regular dates like dinner and a movie. Here are some suggestions that we have for putting a little more verve and interest in a marriage. We welcome ideas from you as well.

1. Re-create your first date. Try to remember what you were wearing and look for something similar to wear (unless you have been successful at keeping your youthful figure). Go to the same places, put on a cd with music of that era, see if you can remember your conversations from earlier dating days.

2. Renew your wedding vows. Visit the location where you were first married, alone or invite others. Sit in the back of the church, on a blanket near the chapel, somewhere close by. Share your vows with each other and then have a celebratory meal, maybe go dancing, and reminisce about that day.

3. Too expensive and complicated to get a sitter? You can still have special dates. Make a combined effort to get the children in their rooms and settled for the evening, pop some popcorn and put in a movie from your past. Talk about the what was happening in your relationship when you first saw that movie. Think about ways that you can bring some of those same things back into your relationship now.

4. Plan to go somewhere and do something different that neither of you have ever done before. Go a little outside of your comfort zone. Eat new foods, try a different activity, listen to music that is unusual for the two of you. Dress up or dress down. Be completely different and adventurous. Break the old routine and see what new information this reveals about your spouse.

5. Do something for others. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, take food to shut-ins, volunteer to repair homes with a community agency, work on a project in your neighborhood. Notice the positive feelings that you have about yourselves and each other as you help others.

6. Plan a sensual (not sexual) evening. Light candles, wear perfume or cologne. Plan a massage that is only for relaxation and becoming reacquainted with each other’s bodies. Commit to having no more than a sensual experience. Take the pressure off for a sexual encounter, instead use it to become more connected in a pleasure-giving way.

7. Pretend that you are just meeting for a first date. Make every effort to look really nice. Be charming in a way that you would with a new acquaintance. Ask lots of questions about each other, likes, dislikes, dreams, fears. Make every effort to be curious and inquisitive as you would with anyone that you would like to impress.

Author's Bio: 

Sally Connolly, LCSW, LMFT has been practicing family therapy for over 30 years. She has taught coursework in couple and family therapy for the University of Louisville and The Louisville Seminary. Sally and her husband, family therapist John Turner, have presented workshops, seminars and retreats for couples and singles with a focus on finding and maintaining healthy relationships.