Have you ever wondered where the true origins of holidays come from? I do, so I tend to research 'em. For instance, St. Patrick's Day? Long story short, he was a non-Irish slave who fled Ireland as a teen and then came back to teach Christianity to Irish people. And St. Valentine's Day? Legend has it that he was a man who was martyred for marrying Christian couples at a time when the emperor preferred men go to war than have a family. Pretty fascinating, right? Now watch how I'm about to tie all of this together.
Me? I'm a huge fan of marriage. That's why, whenever I hear someone say that Valentine's Day is a joke, I'm kind of like, "If there is any holiday that deserves some love from married folks, it should be Valentine's Day", just from the origin of it alone.
At the same time, I get that it's a holiday that can stress couples out because while the wife is wondering if her husband will observe it right (and by that, she usually means thoughtfully and romantically), the husband is wondering if his wife will do anything for him at all (it's not just a day for women; it's a day for couples).
If you happen to fall into this category or, your real issue this year is your money is tight, I've got a few ways that you and yours can celebrate the holiday without causing any financial drama on the back-end. As a bonus, these are the kinds of ideas that two can truly play. That way, your husband can enjoy the day rather than simply grinning and bearing it.
1.Have an Indoor Picnic
I'm not sure why the idea of putting a blanket on the ground and eating food on top of it is so romantic to so many of us, but I'll co-sign on the fact that it is. If you're an outdoorsy kind of person, I fully support having some soup, grilled cheese, and hot cocoa with your sweetheart at a park somewhere for lunch. But most of us ain't gettin' down like that in the dead of winter, so the alternative is an indoor picnic.
To pull this off, it's more about the ambiance than the food. First, make an indoor tent (Pinterest has all sorts of cool ideas; so does YouTube). Then put on some 90s R&B (you can never go wrong with that), light some scented soy candles (jasmine, vanilla, and cinnamon are all aphrodisiacs) and have some food delivered. It's simple. It's sweet. And it's totally stress-less. Just like how Valentine's Day should be.
2.Reenact Your First Date
OK, this suggestion right here only works if your first date together was a good one. So if it was, taking a stroll down memory lane is a great way to bring some of the butterflies back.
Thanks to Amazon, YouTube, Hulu, Netflix and On Demand, you can find just about any movie on the planet. Or, if your first date was at a restaurant or coffee shop, if you call ahead, many managers will be more than happy to reserve the same table that you had or come up with something special for you and yours to dine on in order to commemorate where your first date has brought the two of you.
3.Eat Out on the Low
Speaking of eating out, if there is a restaurant that you adore but the prices on the menu are a little steep, see if they have a happy hour. 8 times out of 10, if you go during that time, you can get discounts on a lot of their items.
Some other tips for saving money on dining is to sign up for e-clubs, follow your favorite eateries online (restaurants are known for posting specials on IG and Twitter), and purchase discounted gift cards. It's not uncommon for restaurants to also offer an extra $10-25 cash reward if you purchase a gift card from them at a certain price.
4.Deliver Something Sweet (or Cool) to Each Other’s Jobs
I try and tell husbands as much as possible that they can earn some major points if they deliver some roses to their wife (on a day other than their birthday or anniversary) every once in a while. The same thought applies to Valentine's Day — for both men and women.
As far as what you can have delivered, the ideas are endless! A favorite bottle of wine. A favorite dessert. Chocolate-covered strawberries. A subscription service for lingerie (trust me, your husband will like getting this sent to him just as much as you would appreciate receiving it). Or, if you know your man would appreciate something that's more on the light-and-fun side, how about a classic Nintendo system or tickets to an upcoming concert or game? Include a note about how much you love them too.
Being able to show your romantic side off to their co-workers will totally make their day.
5.Cash Some “Sex Checks”
A couple of days ago, I read an article on sex coupons. When I went to Amazon to check them out, I saw something that I found to be even cuter — sex checks. Each packet includes 30 IOUs and 30 UOMEs.
If you add to these a bottle of DIY massage oil (all you need to do is mix some lavender oil with some sweet almond oil and heat it up), some edible body paint (you can buy some here or get a recipe to make your own here) and a couple of glasses of a love potion cocktail, you should be in for a really adventurous night. (Remember not to write a check you can't cash!)
6.Cook Each Other’s Favorite Meals TogetherAdd some fun to your date night!
Did you know that a lot of reputable therapists believe that a key to a couple's longevity is to cook together? It's a great way to spend quality time with one another and learn new things. There are also studies to support that cooking with your spouse reduces stress and can even lead to more and better sex as well.
Use this Valentine's Day as an opportunity to cook something neither of you has ever had before (first times for things are always sexy) or cook each other's favorite dishes. Who knows? The home-cooked dinner on the table could lead to some— eh hem — mighty fine dessert on the kitchen floor afterwards.
7.Buy Some “Breakaway” Lingerie
If you're a lingerie connoisseur, you already know that one nice piece of a lil' sumthin' sumthin' can easily run you over 75 bucks. But if you're on a budget and you want to get something new for your man to look at for the sake of Valentine's Day, there are all kinds of places where you can buy, what I call "breakaway lingerie". Literally, something that breaks away from the routine.
Arie is dope because it's got casual sleepwear, plus it features models that aren't photoshopped. Lane Bryant is cool because it's got something for the super curvy ladies (Ashley Stewart and Hips and Curves does too). If you love you some lace, LACELAB on Etsy has definitely got your back. If BDSM with a touch of romance is more your speed, Blossom Body features a nice collection. Or, if a sheer teddy is exactly what you have in mind, hit up Missguided. You'll be able to find one there
8.Stay at a Vacation House or Airbnb
If you don't want to travel out of town but you want to get out of the house, and the thought of a hotel causes you to yawn with boredom, how about a vacation house or Airbnb? You'll end up with a lot more space and, oftentimes, the costs are much cheaper too.
To be fair, out of all of the things I've suggested, this one probably falls more in the "under $100-150" range. But I still listed it because I saw some vacation home rentals in my own city for $30-50. (Home to Go is a good starting point.)
9.Make a 12-Month Date Calendar
One year, a friend of mine's husband did something on her birthday that earned him all kinds of ooos and ahhs. He bought a calendar and then strategically planned out dates for the entire year. I mean, dates that he literally thought out, twice a month, until her following birthday.
What I adore about this idea is it's a reminder that proactiveness is not only underrated but super sexy too. And you know what? Since there are studies to support that monthly dates are one of the keys to keeping a marriage together, it's a great way to show that quality time with your partner is a top priority — no matter what.
10.Update Your Wedding Vows and Frame Them
It doesn't matter if a couple comes to me for a tune-up (we get our oil changed every 3,000 miles, so why shouldn't spouses check-in with a counselor a couple of times a year?) or they are on their last leg, something that I suggest is that they write down 10-15 things that they love about their spouse and then put it up someplace where they can see it daily.
Along these same lines, it's probably a good idea to frame your wedding vows somewhere around the house too, just as a reminder that your husband is not your boyfriend and your wife is not your girlfriend. Your commitment is a lot more serious (and legal) than that.
Then, maybe alongside your original vows, post some upgraded ones too. You know, the things that you want to promise now that you know more about what marriage is really all about. Think about it — what does "for better or for worse" really mean now that you've been through some things?
Both of you updating your vows can bring some humor to your Valentine's Day; it can also be a reminder of just how far you've come and just how "in this" the two of you really are.
Out of all of the things I've shared, this one is probably the most inexpensive and invaluable.
Happy Valentine's Day, married folks!
Featured image by Getty Images.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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Featured image by Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images