Since Valentine’s Day is approaching, couples could consider giving each other the “gift” of improving their relationship with time. It is so important for couples to spend time together having fun, which will nurture the relationship. Although this sounds like an easy task, it is not. Work, children and life in general tend to be all consuming, leaving little to no time for the couple. This is when it is essential to get creative. If childcare is an issue, plan a walk in the park or a romantic lunch while the children are in school or at an activity. Or, enjoy each other’s companionship at home. It can be as simple as setting aside an hour in the evening one or two nights a week after the children are in bed to talk to each other about more meaningful topics, such as how the week is going/how they are feeling and why, and not just usual chatter about the logistics of the next day.

Another inexpensive way to have quality time with your partner is to choose a sustainable time of day to check in with each other for fifteen minutes. During these special times with your partner, actively listen to him/her, be empathetic, and reflect back what you hear as a way to clarify and improve understanding. If access to child care is available through family members or a babysitter, plan a weekend get-away. Develop new interests together—go bowling, attend estate sales or research new restaurants to try. Since we tend to do things that are scheduled, it can be helpful to have a regular ‘date’ time, even if ‘date’ time is simply going for a walk each time your child has sports practice. Placing your couple time on the calendar is more likely to keep it sacred. Quality, fun time together does not need to be a European vacation or a Caribbean cruise. It does, however, need to be special time that happens with some regularity when the focus is on enjoying each other and having fun. This will increase the emotional intimacy in the relationship, which will in turn often also lead to more physical intimacy.

Local events for you and your partner to consider as options for celebrating this February in the spirit of Valentine’s Day include:

February 2, 3, 8, 9, 10 (7:30pm) and February 11 (3pm) — Cary Players presents “Almost, Maine,” a romantic comedy that follows nine short stories about love, loss and friendship. 
Tickets $20.
https://caryplayers.org/shows/almost-maine/

February 4 (12pm) and February 7, 8, 11, 13, 14 (6:30pm-8:30pm) — Paint Nite combines guided paint sessions with dinner and cocktails! Locations in Raleigh, Durham, Cary and Chapel Hill. Tickets $45. (Use promotional code LOVEDURHAM for 20% off)
www.paintnite.com 

February 9, 10 (8:30pm) and February 14 (7:00pm, 8:30pm) — Morehead Planetarium and Science Center presents Carolina Skies —Valentine’s Edition. What is more romantic than a guided tour of the universe and ancient legends of love in the night sky? Tickets are $8 and can be purchased in advance, online or at the door while still available.
https://moreheadplanetarium.org/newsroom/all-news- releases/carolina-skies- valentines- edition-2018

February 10 (3-6pm) — At Paws and Pours, couples can meet adoptable animals while tasting wines, craft beers and light snacks! Tickets are $20 and all proceeds benefit Second Chance Pet Adoptions.
https://www.secondchancenc.org/events/2018-paws- and-pours- bottlemixx/

February 11 (6-10pm) — Check out “The Parlour” in Durham for a dessert flight night! A selection of four gluten-free, off-menu desserts will be featured. Flights are $13 and sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.