Every February, red roses and heart-shaped boxes of sweets everywhere are a constant reminder that we should be showing our love for our spouse or partner — on just one day each year.

With Valentine’s Week in full swing, Family Service Agency (FSA) is sharing some simple tips to help local couples and families make time for one another all year long; even with full days of work and caring for children of all ages.

“It’s no surprise that after a few years into a relationship, our busy lives take over and partners have less time to dedicate to each other,” said Cynthia MacDuff, FSA family support services supervisor. “After a while it seems like everything in your life comes before our relationship.

“But the good news is that there are some simple tools to help us invest in our significant others. I hope you’ll join us to find out even more.”

FSA’s no-cost couples classes and nurturing parenting program have already helped nearly 700 local women and men discover a path to re-connect throughout the year. They find new confidence in their parenting approach and in how they handle conflicts with their partner or spouse, and discovering that all couples and families experience challenges along the way in their relationship and raising families.

Try the following three techniques to show you care, and contact FSA about joining a no-cost course.

  • Do your part: Couples often fall into the habit of focusing on things they cannot change, such as a partner’s behavior. Those cute quirks can become irritating habits many years later. Instead of fixating on changing someone’s behavior, alter your own in ways that make the relationship stronger. Try small unexpected actions that will make your partner smile like leaving a note on the bathroom mirror. Small, meaningful gestures could inspire them to do their part as well.
  • Make it easy to connect: All people want to be cared for, accepted and loved within our romantic relationships. But feelings of connection can erode with time unless we intentionally put in the effort. Connecting with your partner can be as easy as listening to them about their stressful day, having a conversation free of judgement, or simply telling them you care about them. Connecting is not about fixing problems or giving suggestions, but rather about demonstrating that you are there for them when they need a friend. Most partnerships have a foundation of friendships and fun, we just have to remember that foundation.
  • Have fun: There never seem to be enough hours in the day, but having fun with your partner doesn’t need to be time consuming. Sacrifice five to 10 minutes you may have just spent scrolling through your phone and dedicate them to being with them. Perhaps offer a three-minute back massage and ask for one in return. Share a funny memory of the early days of your relationship that he or she may have forgotten. Ask him/her some fun questions: “What does the perfect day look like to you?” “What would be your dream vacation if we won the lottery?” Having fun doesn’t have to cost anything or require extensive planning.

Every relationship can be empowered with some education and discovering that other couples go through many of the same challenges at different stages of relationships and raising families.

FSA’s Healthy Relationship Education programs are designed to help couples create a happier home life. And with time being a rare commodity among many couples, FSA is working to make it as easy as possible to attend by offering no-cost childcare and even dinner to attendees.

Classes are offered throughout the year in southern and northern Santa Barbara County with options in English and Spanish. For information on classes in the Santa Barbara area, call 805-335-0126. For Santa Maria and Lompoc, call 805-319-6922 or inquire about upcoming classes online.

Funding for FSA’s Healthy Relationship Education provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant #90FM0106. These services are available to all eligible persons, regardless or race, gender, age, disability or religion.