This Valentine’s Day Say “I Love You” By Doing Something Together

News of an evening cooking class offered by Northern Essex Community College caught Linda Maxwell’s attention while shopping at Haverhill Farmer’s Market.

“Immediately, my ears perked up. My husband David is a foodie. I went to the website and thought it would be fun,” said the Groveland resident who decided to surprise David with a Spanish cooking class for couples.

“Honestly, she really surprised me,” David said. “I love to cook so this was perfect. We worked together to make an amazing meal. We had done nights out before but this one was way off!”

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

Linda and David Maxwell with chef Colby Bergeron in the kitchen at Northern Essex Community College Culinary Institute in Haverhill.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

“The uncredited Date Night program is designed to be fun,” said Colby Bergeron, Assistant Instructor at Northern Essex. “Couples work together to try something new that they wouldn’t normally cook at home with the support of an instructor.”

The Maxwells made paella and churros, and they enjoyed the food they cooked together. They plan to try a new cuisine with another North Essex cooking class.

Lisa and Mark Zarella from Marshfield took ballroom dancing lessons in preparation for their daughter’s wedding. It was an instant hit. Six years later, COVID-19 restrictions permitting, they are still dancing weekly.

Lisa and Mark Zarella never miss a dance lesson.Gretchen Ertl for the Boston Globe

“No matter how busy or tired we are, we go to our ballroom dancing class with Roger and Claire Vaka in Marshfield every Thursday,” Lisa said. “We go, we laugh, we dance – it’s energizing.”

“It’s often difficult for couples to get active after work,” Amato added, “but doing something physical like dancing or bowling boosts endorphins, helps with mental health — and can be great. “

The Zarellas may differ in their favorite dance — his is tango, he prefers freestyle — but they totally agree that their shared dance time is romantic and fun.

“What’s not to like?” asked Mark. “I can hold her in my arms and dance for an hour.”

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

In some relationships, one partner may embrace and build on the interests of the other, bringing them closer together.

Bobbi Tornheim of Bedford is a highly skilled wood turner. His work is exhibited by the Lexington Arts & Crafts Society (LexArt).

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

“I wanted to support his passions,” said Jerik, who cuts and prepares wood for turning. “I’m also active with LexArt inventory management, POS system, and exhibit support.”

Learning woodworking skills allows Jerik to be a bigger part of Bobbi’s life, and his decades of experience communicating with her makes him a great support.

“He’s the best cutter ever – knowing exactly what I need,” Bobbi said.

Both agree that the common interest has also brought them an important shared social network.

For Danielle Wehner and Michael Jay, it is the love of theater that brought them together as a couple and it remains a passion they share.

“We met at a ‘Barefoot in the Park’ audition for the Concord Players,” Jay recalled. “I remember coming home hoping we would be reunited as a couple.” Jay got his wish and before the end of the romantic comedy, they were also a real couple.

It was shortly before the pandemic, in January 2020.

Danielle Wehner and Michael Jay in a scene from “Sense and Sensibility” presented by Concord Players in 2021. Chris Pollari

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

“We are both working from home due to the pandemic. It’s tight,” Wehner added. “It’s socially vital for us to get out and be part of the theater community.”

“For me, it’s amazing to have someone who understands the theatrical experience,” Jay said, “the crazy schedule, the language, the creative process, and the frustrations.”

“Empathy, or being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, is important in a healthy relationship,” said Salem State associate professor Amato.

“Theatre can be exhausting, physically draining and energizing all at the same time,” Wehner said. “Sharing the experience with a partner is an integrated support system.”

“For couples, the focus should be on quality timeshare, not quantity,” Amato concluded. “Just being in the same room isn’t quality time. The pandemic has brought challenges, but what’s important for couples is making time for each other Quality time can be as simple as cuddling or cooking dinner together at home.

Linda Greenstein can be contacted at [email protected].

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