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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Tips for taking the chocolate out of Valentine's Day

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

KINGSTON, R.I. -- February 5, 2004 --Looking for an alternative choice to chocolates for your sweetheart on Valentine's Day? Consider the following ideas for meaningful gifts that won't melt away your lover's New Year's resolutions, shrink the returns, or even wilt within a week.

As waistlines are widening and many couples budgets are shrinking several faculty members at the University of Rhode Island's College of Human Science and Services have a few long-lasting, suggestions for strengthening health, budgets, and relationships on Valentines Day and throughout the year.

Get physical: With Valentine's Day a mere six weeks after that "New Year's resolution" to get into shape, what better way to show your affection than to give your partner a membership to a local gym, health club or fitness center? Or, if you're already there, arrange for a meeting with a personal fitness trainer, make a date for a workout together followed by a healthy meal. URI's Deb Reibe, an associate professor of physical education who specializes in studies that combine exercise with healthy eating, says that making exercise and healthy eating the habit can go a long way to reshaping well-being and overall outlook on life.

Get refreshed: URI's Family Therapy Clinic Coordinator Dale Blumen suggests that couples who may have hit a rough patch use Valentine's Day as the impetus to "tune up" their relationship. Blumen says make a date with a counselor to help build or strengthen the relationship. "Marriage and family therapists meet with couples to help them work through those rough spots, discussing such possible problems as communication style differences and approaches to arguments," says Blumen. "There are many things couples can learn to do to increase the positives in their relationships." The holiday for sweethearts seems to be a natural time to start that process.

Get fiscal: As worries about money top concerns for many couples today, laying out the cards for your valentine may provide a clearer picture of where you stand. At least that's one suggestion that URI's Joan Gray Anderson makes to folks wanting to gain control of their family finances. A professor of Human Development and Family Studies and a director of the University's Center for Personal Financial Education, Anderson uses a deck of "Money Habitudes" cards (developed by LifeWise Inc. in Rockwell, Md.) to help individuals and couples identify and understand their fiscal personality types.

"Though playing with a family's finances is no game, this deck of cards really helps people to lay out issues and attitudes about money. It helps to know up front where your partner stands on spending, saving, and managing all of the details of money," Anderson says. One way to celebrate Valentines Day -- give your sweetie the deck of cards and get to know one another really intimately.

Or even just get ready: Planning to tie the knot or working toward a long-term relationship? Make a date for a workshop or to speak with a professional at URI's Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic to get ready.

All of the experts agree, while none of these ideas are anything really new, providing your significant other with fun, healthy Valentine's Day alternatives may show that you're in a relationship for the long term, not just for the annual chocolates.