It’s here again. With Valentine’s Day upon us, stores are already flooded with the traditional flowers, chocolates, and multitudes of pink cards emblazoned with corny poetry. Time to start thinking about what you’re going to do for that special someone in your life. But before you book that dinner reservation at your favourite restaurant, consider trying something new.
Most couples know that investing time in each other and frequent date nights are key to a healthy relationship. But recent studies have shown that regular dates alone may not be enough. In fact, Arthur Aron, a professor with a Ph.D. in psychology at Stony Brook University, recommends that dates should not only be frequent but fun. "Any time a couple does something together, it can be fun,” he says. “But when it's really exciting, that fun gets associated with the relationship.”
Thankfully, fun and excitement doesn’t have to break the bank. If your hot tub’s open and ready to go, a romantic and enjoyable evening is easily within reach. Here are five steps to make your date night worth remembering.
- Check Water Quality Early
Clean and sparkling clear hot tub water is critical for the evening to be a success. Check your hot tub's water chemistry in the days before your night. Make sure to balance the water's chemicals. If it has been four or more months since you last drained the water, then before Valentine’s Day is a good time for a drain and clean.
pHin Tip: Draining, cleaning, filling and heating takes at least 24 hours so it’s a great idea to check your water quality a couple days prior to your party.
Have the water temperature at the recommended 102 - 104 F. Most people feel comfortable at this temperature. Water temperature is a personal choice, but we prefer a cooler temperature if alcohol will be consumed.
- The Invitation
Depending on your spouse’s romantic tendencies, you may or may not have an easy time convincing them to join you for an evening of relaxation. If he or she is the more impulsive type, you may want to simply keep the occasion a surprise. But if you know that they’re going to take a little more persuasion, don’t hold back. Write an invitation on some ornate paper and include it with a gift of new swimwear or bath towels (never underestimate the alluring power of a luxuriously soft towel).
The key here is setting the tone. If you send off an informal text it’s going reflect badly on your other efforts. Ask yourself: will “c u @ hawt tub 2nite” really get them in the mood?
- Food Prep
Given that soaking in the hot tub together may be a fairly run-of-the-mill occurrence for you, you’re going to want to splurge in this area. What are you and your spouse’s favourite finger foods? A cheese-and-cracker plate or a tray of hot appetizers are both tasty options. But if you really want to impress (this especially applies to individuals who don’t cook regularly), don’t be afraid to spend some time digging through a cookbook or the Internet to find a romantic recipe. But if even the thought of reading a recipe terrifies you, try melting some chocolate chips on the stove with a splash of coffee cream and dipping fresh fruit chunks in them. Now that’s delicious and easy!
Keep in mind that it’s important to stay hydrated while in the tub, so have some bottles of cold water nearby. If you’re going to be drinking anything alcoholic, may sure you use plastic or shatterproof glasses. A broken glass and hot tub that needs to be completely drained would certainly bring your date night to a screeching halt.
The atmosphere you create around your tub is going to be what sets it apart from normal evenings. Surrounding your deck with lit candles is a classic and beautiful option. You can also try stringing up a few sets of white Christmas lights. Or pull out your hot tub manual and program your own little light show if your tub comes with those features.
Figure out what kind of mood you’re aiming to create, and go for it. If that means pulling the plug and just watching the stars come out, that’s a lovely idea too. Just make sure laziness has nothing to do with that last choice.
- Mix your Soundtrack
George Lucas famously said that "Sound is 50 percent of the movie-going experience.” Sound applies to far more than just cinema though, and if the loudest noise that you hear is the drone of your hot tub heater or the neighbor’s irritating dog, that’s going to take a major edge off your romantic atmosphere. Plus, the act of playing prepared music will show your spouse just how much thought you put into this.
What you actually choose to play should be personal, and again all adding to the mood you want to create. Whether it’s the exact mix from your wedding or a playlist of old and new songs, the aim should be to be to please the other person.
This part actually requires the least planning. Once you’re both in the tub and feeling warm, relaxed, and well-fed, any further effort will probably seem unnecessary. Take some time to enjoy each other’s company in a cozy, screen-free environment. Or if you really want to try something new, look up some videos on hot tub massages and take notes. The heat of the water will have your muscles already loose and relaxed. Or harken back to your younger years and play that silly Sticky-Notes-On-Your-Forehead game that’s been around forever and no one knows the name to.
It really doesn’t matter, so long as you and your spouse are enjoying yourselves. Studies have shown that communication is one of the biggest keys to a lasting marriage, so if what you need is a chance to talk without interruption, don’t waste it.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be the clichéd, over-commercialized spending bonanza it’s become. Its roots trace back to Roman couples who showed their love and devotion for each other by secretly getting married, a major act of defiance against the ban placed by the emperor.
Thankfully, in the 21st century, we’re free from such control, so there’s no excuse for not showing your affection to someone you love. We all know that actions speak louder than words. Take the time to plan for your Valentine’s date beforehand, and you’ll both enjoy an evening you won’t forget.
To keep the maintenance of that hot tub simple, be sure to check out the pHin device. It monitors water quality, notifies you by smartphone when you need to add chemicals and ships you the right amounts.