Rut Buster! Valentine's edition

As Joy pointed out last week, a "rut" can be another word for "stability." And stability, especially in a relationship, can be a great comfort. But the intimacy that has you watching Law & Order reruns in your sweats together, as lovely as that is, is world's away from the electricity that shot down your spine when your hands first touched. The best relationships have excitement and comfort both, in equal parts. But what if you feel like you're running a little short on fire? When couples do new things together -- whether by going somewhere new or doing something novel -- they get a feeling not unlike the first flush of love. Here, some low-cost, high-romance Valentine's-friendly ideas for busting a rut.

  • Celebrate V-Day Chinese New Year style. This year, Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day both fall on the 14th. Why not skip the chocolate and fondue and head out to Chinatown? Dim sum is a great way to experience Chinese food and culture, but if you don't have a lively Chinatown near you, why not hole up in the kitchen together, and make dumplings with your dumpling?
  • Write a love letter. Women love Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in part because the romance is tied up in the most glorious language. Who hasn't swooned when Darcy says that he "ardently admires and loves" Elizabeth Bennet? You don't have to bust out a fountain pen or try to write a poem, but this year, instead of letting Hallmark do the heavy lifting, why not sit down and tell your beloved exactly why and how you love them and in the most adoring language you can muster.
  • Have a living room picnic. Picture this: no ants, no sunscreen, no breeze blowing paper plates away. Nature can really put a kink in romance, but approaching a familiar surrounding (your living room floor) with a novel approach (a picnic) can be just as great as going somewhere new. Better yet, in your living room it's just you and your sweetie, fireside and barefoot, nibbling on cheese, crackers, and cava.
  • Dance. Where did all the dance halls go? It used to be that couples could go out dancing on Saturday night, but two-stepping joints can be hard to find unless you live in Texas. Why not reimagine your kitchen as the dance floor and twirl and twist together after supper? There is something undeniably sexy about working up a sweat together.
  • Dig through the treasure trove. A wise women once told me to never throw away a love letter. I keep the ones from past loves in a box that remains closed on the top shelf of the closet. But the ones from my husband sit in a handsome wooden box on my bedside. Share a bottle of wine and haul out all the old love notes you've written each other. Revisit other written records, like your journal from when you first started dating. You'll probably find that these relics of the past are so filled with admiration, longing, and desire, you'll be realize the fire between you was there smoldering all along.
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