This Valentine’s Day, do something together and say “I love you”

This Valentine's Day, do something together and say "I love you"

This Valentine’s Day, do something together and say “I love you”


Information about a date night cooking class offered by North Essex Community College caught the eye of Linda Maxwell while she was shopping at the Haverhill Farmers Market.

โ€œMy ears popped up right away. My husband David is a foodie. I visited the site and thought it would be fun,โ€ said the Groveland resident, who decided to surprise David with a Spanish food couple cooking class .

“Honestly, she really surprised me,” David said. “I love to cook, so this was perfect. We worked hard to make a great meal together. We’ve had date nights before, but this time it’s far away!”

“It was just a wonderful experience that challenged our taste buds and made us work side by side,” says Linda.

Linda and David Maxwell with Chef Colby Bergeron in the kitchen at the North Essex Community College Culinary Institute in Haverhill. Erin Clark/Globe Employees

“The date night non-credit programme is designed to be fun,” said Colby Bergeron, an adjunct lecturer at the University of North Essex. “Couples try to try something new together and they usually don’t cook at home with the support of a coach.”

The Maxwells made paella and fritters, and they enjoyed the food cooked together. They plan to try new dishes at another North Essex cooking class.

Lisa and Mark Zarella of Marshfield took ballroom dancing lessons in preparation for their daughter’s wedding. It was an instant hit. Six years later, they’re still dancing every week as COVID-19 restrictions allow.

Lisa and Mark Zarella never miss a dance class. Gretchen Ertl for The Boston Globe

“No matter how busy or tired we are, we go to ballroom dancing lessons in Marshfield every Thursday with Roger and Claire Waka,” Lisa said. “We go, we laugh, we dance – it’s full of energy.”

“It’s often difficult for couples to participate in activities after get off work,” Amato adds, “but doing some physical activity like dancing or bowling stimulates endorphins and helps mental health — and can be fun.”

Zarellas may differ on their favorite dance โ€” hers is tango, he prefers freestyle โ€” but they totally agree that the dance time they share is romantic and fun.

“Anything not to love?” Mark asked. “I could hold her in my arms and dance for an hour.”

“I suggest learning something new with your partner,” Lisa says. “Dancing for us has become date night, and we love it and we love doing it together.”

In some relationships, one partner may embrace the other’s interests and build upon them, thereby bringing them closer together.

Bobbi Tornheim of Bedford is a skilled wood turning artist. Her work is exhibited through the Lexington Society of Arts and Crafts (LexArt).

Jerik, her husband of 40 years, learned wood cutting and turning skills to complement her work.

“I wanted to support her passion,” said Jerick, who was cutting and preparing wood for turning. “I’m also actively involved with LexArt managing inventory, point-of-sale systems and helping with exhibitions.”

Learning wood skills has made Jerik a more important part of Bobbi’s life, and his decades of experience with her have made him an excellent supporter.

“He was the best tailor ever – he knew exactly what I needed,” Bobby said.

Both agreed that shared interests also gave them an important shared social network.

For Danielle Wehner and Michael Jay, it was a love of theatre that made them a couple, and they still share a passion.

“We met at the Concord Players’ ‘Barefoot in the Park’ audition,” recalls Jay. “I remember driving home wishing we could star together as a couple.” Jay got his wish, and they were also a real-life couple before the romantic comedy ended.

That was shortly before the January 2020 pandemic.

Danielle Wehner and Michael Jay in a scene from Sense and Sensibility, presented by Concord Players in 2021.Chris Pollary

Fast-forward: The couple, who recently celebrated their two-year anniversary, now share an apartment in Newton and continue to perform – together and apart.

“We’re all working from home because of the pandemic. It’s up close,” Weiner added. “For us, going out and being a part of the theater community is critical to society.”

โ€œFor me, it was amazing to have someone who knew the theater experience,โ€ Jay said, โ€œthe crazy schedule, language, creative process and frustration.โ€

“Empathy, or being able to put oneself in another’s shoes, is important for healthy relationships,” said Amato, an associate professor at Salem State University.

“Theatre can be exhausting, exhausting and energizing,” Weiner said. “Sharing experiences with partners is a built-in support system.”

“For couples, the focus needs to be on the quality of time shared, not the quantity,” Amato concluded. โ€œJust being in the same room is not a good time. The pandemic has brought challenges, but for couples, itโ€™s important to make time for each other. Good times can be as simple as hugging at home or cooking dinner together .”

Linda Greenstein can be contacted at

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