Jen Juneau
Updated Feb 14, 2017 @ 3:19 pm

Even when you’re paired up with someone, Valentine’s Day can put a lot of pressure on two people in a relationship. Between the “Look what bae got me this year!” Facebook photos, to the Instagram snaps of lovey-dovey couples on a romantic getaway for two, the Valentine’s Day highlight reels that we see via social media can really put a damper on the day’s actual purpose — especially if you have certain expectations that aren’t being met.

No, we’re not talking about chocolate (although lbr, that’s what the day is really about). We’re talking about the very real purpose of this day: A time when we can allow ourselves to take a step back, breathe, and thank our partners — and friends! — for being such integral parts of our lives.

However, I’d be lying if I said that spending the holiday as a married person hasn’t given me the best Valentine’s Days I’ve personally ever experienced, for the following reasons.

1Your spouse really knows and understands what you like (and don’t like).

Honestly, this can go for people who just know each other really well. But when you’re married on Valentine’s Day, your spouse understands that saying, “No seriously, I just want to stay in and binge-watch Santa Clarita Diet” means you actually want to stay in and binge-watch Santa Clarita Diet. No games, just the hope of pizza. Heart-shaped or not is your choice.

2That goes for presents, too.

At the beginning of most of my relationships, my boyfriends went big — which is fine, since I’m a sucker for this holiday. But they went big with the wrong things. I once got a stuffed bear that was as big as me, from a guy who knew I was a huge anti-pack rat. What the hell was I going to do with that thing? I realize I’m coming off as ungrateful, but he ended up cheating on me so I don’t care.

Anyway, this year, my husband hand-carved me a wand stand for our wands that we got from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and had it engraved with one of my favorite quotes from the series. And he got me a pink bathrobe, because lazing around in comfy material is my next favorite thing after Harry Potter. That’s true love, y’all.

3There’s no pouting over Galentine’s/Palentine’s Day.

We’ve all been there: We start dating someone new and burrow into our significant other for the entirety of the honeymoon phase, seldom peeking our heads out to acknowledge anyone else’s presence — especially on a day like Valentine’s Day.

When you’re married, your S.O. probably doesn’t get annoyed that you want to hang out with your girlfriends on the days surrounding Valentine’s Day. In fact, if I chose to do this tonight, my husband would probably say, “I mean, we’re going out to dinner Saturday so I don’t see the problem.” He’d still have flowers waiting for me when I got home because that’s how he rolls. But even on Valentine’s Day, whatever makes the other person happy becomes more important than the rush you get from “doing a good job.”

4Ordering out at dinner = nothing is off the table.

Speaking of dinner, 10 years ago, I would try not to eat the richest item on the menu if I went out to a fancy meal for a Valentine’s Day date. Now that I’m married, I have no problem letting my foodie-freak flag fly. I’ll order a bottle of wine, an appetizer, an entrée, and dessert. (I’ll share dessert…sometimes.)

Point is, you don’t have to pretend to be someone you aren’t when you’re married. Your spouse knows what they got into, so you do you.

5A little goes a long way.

When you’re in a day-to-day routine with your spouse and you both have hectic schedules, it can be difficult to find opportunities when you can spend some real quality time together. Valentine’s Day gives you the chance to drop a note in your boo’s lunch, surprise them with a wake-up massage and breakfast in bed, or watch their favorite movie that you somehow still haven’t seen yet because it’s not your ~thing~.

Granted, you can do this on any old day of the year, but when you’re just dating/not living with someone, the everyday little things can be overlooked. Marriage is a great time to make the most out of those types of moments.

Happy married (or boyfriended/girlfriended, or single, or anything really) Valentine’s Day!