I know, I know, all the celebrations like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and any of the other days that require a card and a themed gift and expectations and all the rest are just commercially-driven endeavors we feel compelled to participate in, right?

Well, maybe.

But celebrating those we love has some important bonuses for the connection of your relationships, the well-being of those you care about, and the continued health of your relationships.

Linda and Charlie Bloom with Psychology Today write, “Great relationships are characterized by sympathetic joy, which derives from the Pali and Sanskrit word Muditā—“The pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being.” It is characterized by sharing positive feelings with another and looking upon them with favor, and is particularly characterized by feelings of respect for the successes of another person.”1

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, with post-Christmas and New Year’s exhaustion not that far behind us in the rearview mirror, it can be tempting to let the season of love pass without so much as a nod. The same goes for anniversaries and other dates, particularly if you’re in a long-term marriage or relationship. However, mental health experts find that relationships that do take part in celebrating those bonds are generally happier and healthier.2

Holidays, Special Days, and Every Day: Sure, there is probably a level of commercialism surrounding some of the holidays like Valentine’s. But it’s also a great opportunity to let those you love know it and to commemorate it with a thoughtful handwritten letter or homemade treat, no participation in profit-driven products necessary. (Check out these ideas for thoughtful and budget-friendly gifts.) Continuing to celebrate your wedding anniversary, commemoration of your first date or the first time you said I love you and other moments in your relationship are also important. And don’t forget to celebrate the day-to-day; encouraging each other when you get all the kids to their various practices by dividing and conquering, dancing in the kitchen while you clean up after dinner, telling your partner on a random Monday something you love about them. It’s both about the day and not about the day, taking the time to remind and reinforce your appreciation for those you love.

This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Strengthening Your Bond: An encouraging, loving relationship is one that consistently strengthens its bond. Handing off a card and chocolates on Valentine’s Day isn’t some kind of guarantee of relational success, but it is a deposit in making a statement about your relationship. Surprising someone you care about on a day that means something to each of you, whether that’s in honor of your friendship, business partnership, or romance, connects you to a shared experience, all of which strengthens the ties that bind you.

Building Your Emotional Health and Well-Being: Knowing that those we are in relationship with are willing to demonstrate their appreciation and love is an important building block in that relationship. When we feel appreciated and when we are proactive in showing our appreciation of other, it helps reduce stress in the relationship. In a culture that reports that loneliness is one of the top emotional challenges3 today, when you take advantage of built-in holidays like Valentine’s to express your connection, it goes a long way in mitigating anxiety and isolation in a relationship.

Creating a Positive Relational Culture: When we look for opportunities to express our love for each other, and we do that with consistency and frequency, it helps build an environment in the relationship that is primed for better communication, connection, and success.

It’s Fun!: Celebratory moments are part of what gives life color and joy. Why not take advantage of times set aside in our culture today to do just that? Look for ways to make each other laugh, to create joy, and celebrate moments together, whether big or small.

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
Colossians 2:16

Making Memories: There’s something about taking a moment in time, to pause, to reflect, to get out the camera, to create a tradition, that tends to stay with us more specifically than the routines and tasks of the average day. When you take the time to make a day like Valentine’s or anniversaries or birthdays a little more special, a little more of an intentional celebration, these are the memories you’ll likely return to time and time again. It gives our busy brains the chance to find something to hang onto, a moment that we can treasure and keep through the coming years.

Dimitris Xygalatas, Department of Anthropology at UConn, writes about Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman’s research, which helps explain why we often remember these moments better: “Kahneman’s research shows that when we evaluate past experiences, we tend to remember the best moments and the last moments, paying little attention to everything else. This is known as the “peak-end rule.””4
Celebrations are part of the good stuff of relationships. If you find yourself struggling to celebrate this year, if some of your relationships are going through a difficult time, take that as a sign that getting some help could be important. If you’re an Altrua HealthShare Member on certain memberships, you have access to LifeWorks, an in-person and telecounseling service that can help you get your relationships back on track. If you’re not yet a Member of Altrua HealthShare or are not sure if you have LifeWorks, simply reach out to a Member Services Representative for information at 1.888.698.2276. And if you need some new ideas about how to celebrate your love this year, you’ll find five great ideas by clicking here.

Here’s to you and yours, to your love and to celebration! Happy Valentine’s Day!

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/stronger-the-broken-places/201609/why-you-and-your-partner-need-celebrate-each-other#:~:text=Great%20relationships%20are,of%20another%20person
  2. https://thisemotionallife.org/blogs/the-importance-of-celebration-in-your-relationship/
  3. https://fortune.com/well/2023/08/11/loneliness-study-digital-social-media/
  4. https://today.uconn.edu/2017/12/love-holiday-rituals-traditions-anthropologist-explains/#:~:text=Kahneman%E2%80%99s%20research%20shows%20that%20when%20we%20evaluate%20past%20experiences%2C%20we%20tend%20to%20remember%20the%20best%20moments%20and%20the%20last%20moments%2C%20paying%20little%20attention%20to%20everything%20else.%20This%20is%20known%20as%20the%20%E2%80%9Cpeak%2Dend%20rule.%E2%80%9D