It's okay, guys. Don't panic. We've got this.
Ash Wednesday overlapping Valentine’s Day is not in the boyfriend/husband handbook, and if you’re like me, you were probably knocking your head against the wall as you dialed up to cancel your dinner reservations before a hasty return to the drawing board.
There are a few good movies out, but half the fun of a theater is the popcorn, and unless you’re content with making that your small non-meal, that’s out. And of course going to a concert or out to dance seems strange with ashes on our heads, when we are supposed to be remembering that from dust we came and to dust we shall return.
Never fear, though, your Millennial correspondent is here with some sweet, sappy ideas to keep your Valentine’s Day as romantic as can be, while maintaining a day of fasting and abstinence.
Get ashes together
The family that prays together, stays together. Attending church services and events as a couple is always a great way to remember that your relationship should be grounded in faith. So, go get your ashes together! Then for the rest of the day, when you gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes, there will be an ashen cross to keep your mind on the solemnity of the day, and the beginning of the penitential season of Lent, and how much you need each other’s support to get through it. Then at night say evening prayers together by candlelight. Make a pact to help each other through the next 40 days.
Go to the library
The library offers the perfect atmosphere to keep the day peaceful and reverant. You could pick out some Lenten reading material together, and most libraries have a DVD section, too. They may have some religious movies, such as The Passion of the Christ or Hitchcock’s I Confess, or if you’re looking for something different, they might have the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar. We suggest the original 1970 recording with Murray Head as Judas and Deep Purple‘s Ian Gillian as Jesus.
Cook dinner together
Due to work schedules, dinner preparation will often fall on the shoulders of just one of you. Cooking dinner together is a fun way to make the dreary work go faster and it keeps you close and interacting for longer than just the meal. You may want to try a recipe that neither of you have ever cooked – something beyond grilled cheese and tomato soup, but not too fancy. Don’t be afraid of mistakes, those are just oportunities for laughs.
If you’re strapped for time, or just looking for something different, try laying out a blanket on the floor and having an indoor picnic. An Ash Wednesday supper can be as simple as wine and cheese with crackers. For extra romance, set some candles around, and enjoy your dinner by soft, flickering firelight.
Have a conversation in haiku
This is going to sound difficult and ridiculous, but it’s really fun and easier than you think. Haiku is a very short form of Japanese poetry comprised of three lines; the first has 5 syllables, the second has 7, and the third has 5. Here’s an example:
Haikus are easy
Just count all the syllables
Now you can Haiku
Sure, you’ll both mess up a lot, but that’s all part of the game. You each get a point for a properly formed poem, and the loser has to clean up after dinner! You’ll find that forcing yourself to slow down and chose your words carefully may allow you to better communicate with one another. Sometimes it’s nice to cut through all the useless words to get to the heart of the matter.
You are my sweet love
I love you and no other
Till the end of time
Stream an old black-and-white movie
There is a wealth of education on proper manners and societal ettiquette to be found in movies from the early 20th century. Spend a few hours basking in a time when it was considered ill-mannered for a man to leave the house without a hat (or wear one indoors), or for a child to disagree with their parents. Back in those days there were no electronic distractions, and spouses came home to spend time with the only thing that really matters in the world: Family.
You can find quite a few of them on Netflix and Hulu, but we suggest checking out Archive.org, a great site that has a lot of old movies available to stream, free of charge. Some of our favorites are: Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday, My Man Godfrey, and Topper Returns.
What? Was that not enough for you? Then check out these tips to step up your game as a lover.
A Millennial guy’s guide to holding the door open