Keep the Romance Alive after Valentine's Day

Hearts, flowers, chocolate and lace-trimmed cards. Valentine's Day is the perfect occasion for saying "I Love You" in many beautiful and delicious ways. But keeping the passion alive - and making your partner feel cherished and special - is really a goal to work toward year round.

"Work at being a couple on a regular basis," says Leslie Sokol, Ph.D., co-author of "Think Confident, Be Confident." Don't only make a reservation for your favorite restaurant on February 14. Instead, plan to show your commitment and devotion the rest of the year, too.

"Don't put so much emphasis on Valentine's Day itself," says Lisa Rene Reynolds, Ph. D., author of Still a Family: A Guide to Good Parenting after Divorce. "There's way too much pressure on that day. Valentine's Day should be a really nice reminder to take care of your relationship."

Here, seven sizzling solutions to keep your romance fun - and very much alive.

1. Recognize that the honeymoon stage always ends, and that everyone's relationship needs tending. Communicate, keep in touch on a daily basis, and have your partner's back 365 days a year.

2. Do a marriage check every couple of months, just as you'd do a tune up on your car.  "Make a list of the strengths and what's going well," Reynolds says. "And make a list of what you think can be worked on." Give each other the lists, and read them aloud. You'll both get a sense of where you're strong and where your relationship could benefit from some work.

3. Make each other's needs a priority some of the time, but not all the time, Sokol says. "There should be a balance between taking care of your significant other's needs and making him the priority while still taking care of yourself," Sokol says.

4. Continually show affection toward each other, through words as well as physical affection. Sokol suggests that you tell him, "You are so fun to hang out with, I love you." Other ways to express your love: Open the car door for your partner, hold his hand, massage his feet, serve his favorite food.

5. Be friends (and friends hang out with each other!) Ideally, you both like to scuba dive or visit museums. But if not, accompany your partner next time he asks you to go to Home Depot, or wherever, with him.  "Or if you are headed to the supermarket, invite him along," Sokol says. Running errands together gives you the chance to have time with each other.

6. Be intimate. This does not necessarily mean intercourse, Sokol explains. It could just as easily be taking a shower or a bubble bath together or simply snuggling together. The important thing is to have close physical contact on a regular basis.

7. Tell your partner your secrets. "If you are telling your partner your secrets, you're more connected to him than anyone else," Sokol says. "But if you are telling another person your secrets, you're closer to that other person than to your partner."