I probably don’t have to tell you this, but we are officially less than a week away from Valentine’s Day. And so to wish you a very happy almost-Valentine’s day, whether you’re single or coupled, I bring you our Valentine’s Day Special.
Today we are joined by Access Hollywood’s own Mario Lopez and his lovely wife Courtney Lopez, who will tell us the secret to their long-lasting love. There will be a lot of laughs, a lot of heart, and a few embarrassing details that I didn’t see coming.
Then I will answer your most asked Valentine’s Day questions, like how to celebrate on a budget and how to snag a last minute Valentine.
ROMANCE ROLLBACK (1:52)
I’m bringing back an oldie but a goodie segment – The Romance Rollback, where I tell you of love customs from a bygone era. What is the history and meaning behind Valentine’s Day? From Cupid to St. Valentine to Hallmark, it can be difficult to separate facts from legend. Here’s why February 14th looms so large on our calendars and in our hearts.
(2:10) The history of our beloved V-day:
Turns out Valentine’s Day goes all the way back to the Third Century, when the Roman Empire ruled the world. (For those of you who don’t have math brains, that’s 200 to 300 AD.) Let me tell you the story of these two saints, both named St. Valentine.
Both Saint Valentines performed heroic acts that made them martyrs within the Christian religion. The name “Valentine’s Day” probably comes from one or both of them. Buuut their stories didn’t end all that romantically – one of these saints performed illegal marriages of young couples, and the other preached Christianity before it was legal. So both saints were beheaded by the Romans.
Once the Romans lost power and Christianity took over, they were like, “You know what? Remember those St. Valentine’s guys? Let’s celebrate them, AND celebrate these marriages AND celebrate Christianity. Let’s make February 14th Saint Valentine’s Day, and we can actually celebrate the way we want to celebrate.” And St. Valentine’s Day was born!
(3:32) More to the story?:
February 14th was a major holiday celebrated by the Romans every year to honor Juno, the goddess of marriage. The Juno Celebration included a big feast to recognize health and fertility, and young men would draw the name of a woman who they would then escort to the festival.
In the Middle Ages, people believed Feb 14th was the date that birds chose their mates. Additionally, it was also believed that if you met or dreamed about someone on this day, they could be your true love.
(5:00) Here comes commercialism:
Now we take a turn towards our modern-day version of Valentine’s Day. Let’s look at the timeline:
- 1600s in England and other parts of Western Europe: The custom became to send romantic messages to your Beloved.
- 1800s: People started sending official Valentine greetings comics to their loved ones. Sometimes the messages were a little offensive, maybe a little off color. These messages got so cheeky and lit, that the post office stopped sending them.
- Late 1800s: After the Civil War, V-day became a major celebration in the United States, surpassed only by Christmas (the other super commercialized holiday).
- Also late 1800s: Businesses began printing and selling pre-written Valentine’s Day messages. People started giving candy and flowers as gifts or taking their partner on a romantic getaway.
(5:00) The modern-day myth of Valentine’s Day:
Now that Valentine’s Day isn’t really a religious holiday anymore, we get to CHOOSE how we want to celebrate. Even though our modern society puts so much emphasis on Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t have to hold the meaning that Hershey’s Valentine’s boxes lead you to believe.
The Goddess Juno tells us to focus on health and fertility. So maybe for you it’s not about the baby kind of fertility, but what you can grow in your life. Think about the ancient Romans – when you plant the seeds in fertile ground right now, who knows what can grow in the next season of your life? So let’s take St. Valentine’s Day, and expand its celebration to include our health and having a healthy relationship with ourselves (plus our partner).
MARIO & COURTNEY (8:30)
My guests today are Mario and Courtney Lopez! Mario is an actor, author, and television and radio host. He currently hosts Access Hollywood, Access Daily and co-hosts the radio show On With Mario with Courtney. He has also appeared on Broadway, authored several books, and he recently opened the restaurant Tortas Lopez.
Courtney is a singer, dancer, actress and she has also appeared on Broadway. In fact, the couple met in 2008 in the revival Broadway production of A Chorus Line. They married in 2012 and today they have three beautiful children. In addition to hearing her on the iHeart radio show On with Mario, you can often find her guest co-hosting on NBC’s Access Daily, where we all first met.
(10:15) Mario & Courtney’s Love Story:
- D: I want to hear more about your love story. So take me back to 2008. It’s Broadway, A Chorus Line. You’re in the show, Mario, and so are you Courtney. How did the two of you meet?
- C: I was in the show prior to him joining the show. I left, and ended up coming back for the last couple months. And I remember the day, June 23 or something. Stage left, wing one. And I remember meeting him (he was stretching), and we just met that day. Plus, his assistant in the musical was one of my good friends.
- M: He said, “Hey, there’s this girl coming to the show that I think you’re gonna like.”
- D: The last time that I was on Access Daily, I remember there was some mix up with your first date? (11:20)
- C: Yes! It was after a show, and usually the show doesn’t end until close to 11. He was running late because he had to go have drinks with Katie Couric. And it was a business thing. It was late, so I went home. How long was I going to wait for him, till two in the morning?
- M: It wasn’t my fault, Katie wanted to party. So I had to put in some work to get another opportunity.
- C: You know, maybe it would have been the end had we not been working together. But because I saw him every day and he was very persistent, very charming and very sweet, I gave him a second chance. We all deserve second chances.
(12:27) Rom-com recs & 20 Questions:
- D: What rom-coms are you both into?
- M: The ones from like yesteryear strike a chord with me – You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, Fools Rush In.
- C: I like all those movies you mentioned, but my go-to’s usually have a comedy twist in it. Movies where they have a lot of speed bumps before getting together, like Along Came Polly with Ben Stiller.
- D: Which one of you is the better listener? (13:53)
- C: Me. It could be said so nonchalantly, and I remember what people say.
- D: What is your partner’s oddest habit? (14:36)
- M: Her snoring. You wouldn’t expect such a big sound out of someone so cute, but what happens every night is she snores loud, and then she falls asleep quickly.
- C: Breaking wind, wherever he is. We could be with the President and he would break wind.
- D: Describe your sex life in two words? (15:57)
- M: It’s. Great.
- C: Non-stop. (Non-stop fun.) And, we have door locks.
- M: We learned the hard way. I think being spontaneous makes it a lot of fun. Quick little getaways, even a day or two. You gotta carve out the time.
- D: When did you know that you two were in love? (17:10)
- M: It’s funny because it wasn’t like I thought anything was ever going to come of it. She was in New York, I was in LA. I had done the long distance thing before. The reality was the odds were against us. So I just tried to enjoy our time while we were together.
- M: And then over the summer, she started to come out and visit me for like a day or so, for 24 hours. One day I told her, “Okay, I’ll take care of your apartment for like three months if you want to hang out here this summer. And at any point you don’t like me or think I’m crazy, you can go back.” And then she never left.
- M: It just kind of felt very natural and seamless. But I think the most important thing was that the timing was right. That’s why I say timing is always more important than even the person at times. Because you can have an incredible person, but if the timing is not right in your life, I don’t think it can work.
- D: Do you believe in soulmates? And are they predestined or made? (18:48)
- C: I can’t see myself with anybody else. I don’t ever want to see myself with anybody else. I can’t even imagine my life with anybody else. So to me, he is my soulmate. Were we meant to be? I think so.
- M: I think things happen for a reason, and I try to surrender things according to God’s plan. If it’s meant to be, you pick up the signs. Then you’re sort of in charge of your own destiny that way, and it sort of manifested itself. There was an easy flow from one step to the next, and I think that’s how it should be.
- D: What advice do you have for younger couples? (19:57)
- M: I firmly believe that as long as you work on yourself and try to be the best version of yourself, then the timing will sort of present itself. And that’s a constant process. You want to have the best version of yourself ready when you do meet that certain someone.
- D: Which one of you is more romantic? (20:16)
- C: Mario, he’s pretty romantic.
- D: Any last words? (21:08)
- M: I don’t break anything!! That’s another thing is to keep laughing. It keeps things healthy and fun. It keeps the spark alive.
DEAR DAMONA (VALENTINE’s EDITION) (23:05)
(23:05) Dear Damona: I don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on Valentine’s Day. How can I still make it special?
We’ve got to get creative here. And to be honest, I think it makes for a much more special Valentine’s Day if you are doing something that is meaningful to you and your partner, not just going to a restaurant because that’s what you think you’re supposed to do. You can still make Valentine’s Day Special, if you’d like for it to be. Here are my top DIY-date ideas:
1. Go on a Nostalgia Date (23:53)
I’ve discovered that sharing stories and evoking the memories of a happy time in your past can really build a deep intimate connection with your partner. Open up old photo albums and take a walk down memory lane, or try an activity that you used to do together to bring back bonding memories. This date can really help you if you feel a little bit distant from your partner and you want to reconnect.
2. Homemade Planetarium (24:39)
If you’re stuck at home and you don’t have a lot of money or you can’t get out, go stand outside and look up at the sky. I will admit that I’m a bit nerdy, but isn’t it romantic to stargaze? Think about the ancient Romans and Juno and St. Valentine when they had the stars at their fingertips, or pretend like you’re kids and bundle yourself up and cuddle up outside.
I just downloaded this app called Sky View Lite, which will overlay the constellations onto the sky for you. This date is perfect for curious couples who want to observe the little things that we often overlook.
3. Blindfolded Trust Walk (25:30)
This is such a great way to build intimacy. When you take away one of your senses, all your other senses get heightened. And also, when your partner has total trust and control, this can create a different dynamic between the two of you. But you have to communicate.
You can take turns leading one another through the house, and make sure that your partner is not going to trip and fall and hurt themselves. This date is transformational for anyone who has experienced a breach of trust in their relationship or feels they are growing apart.
4. Cook a Meal Together at Home (26:43)
Preparing a meal together fosters important relationship skills including patience and communication. You have to work together to make sure you are pacing the meal correctly. And in the end, you get to enjoy something that you made together.
My husband and I are long-time fans of box meal kits – your recipe items come pre-portioned and ready to cook. Most meal kits require you to order by midweek for the following week so be sure to plan ahead (this could even build excitement and anticipation for the date). This date works best if you’ve had miscommunication in your relationship and need to work on compromise.
5. Sip and Paint Night (27:50)
Have you allowed yourself to be artistic and playful lately? Order art supplies for delivery, then pour yourself and your boo a glass of wine. You can even recycle those old Amazon boxes for a creative mixed media masterpiece. This date is wonderful for couples who feel caught up in the pressure of their day-to-day routine and need to relax and find more levity in their relationship.
6. Play Never Have I Ever (28:30)
After many years it sometimes feels like you know everything about your partner. Yet a game of Never Have I Ever can reveal your deepest secrets in a playful way, or perhaps give you ideas for a post-quarantine bucket list? This date is for those who are looking to rediscover magic and curiosity in a long-term relationship.
7. Laugh Together (28:45)
My single clients all say they’re seeking someone with a sense of humor. Sharing a laugh bonds two people, plus smiling can actually improve your mood physiologically. Stream your favorite comedy special, or play a round of “make me laugh” and find your silly side. This date is for anyone who has been feeling depressed or disconnected from their loved one.
8. Listen To Music Together. (29:29)
A University of Cambridge study revealed that music can build empathy, a vital element of successful relationships. Take yourself back to a simpler time by sitting down at the piano together or putting on a record. Catch a live-streaming concert, or have a battle of your favorite singers online. This date works for couples who are overwhelmed by the pace of life and are craving a simpler date, or those who want to develop more compassion for one another.
(30:33) Dear Damona: I don’t have a valentine yet. Is it too late? Should I just give up?
No, never give up on love. This doesn’t mean you always have to be in the pursuit of a relationship. But there is nothing wrong with being in the pursuit of a relationship, if that’s something that you want. Here’s the deal – you’ve got less than a week left. It’s not too late, but you gotta step on it. Let me tell you the quickest ways to make a connection this week:
1. Singles Events (31:11)
There’s a ton of singles activities happening both offline and online, because we know people are thinking about Valentine’s Day right now. Go on Eventbrite, or the events website Fever Up. I guarantee you if you just sit at home and wait for the invitations to roll in, it ain’t gonna happen. So check out what is happening, and make a plan.
2. Start Swiping (31:39)
There’s no faster way to find a date than your favorite dating app. Profiles take less than 5 minutes to create and you’ll have an entire dating pool at your fingertips.
And if you need help in a pinch, check out my Free Profile Starter Kit. My tip is to make sure you send outgoing messages once you match (women too). Over 70% of matches never turn into dates, so you have to be proactive to make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle.
Send a lot more messages, and let go of the outcome. We’re still in peak dating season, so there are always new people cycling through the apps. Don’t give up!
3. Enlist Your Friends for Help (32:50)
There’s so much shame around singlehood and that doesn’t serve you at all. Ask your friends and other people in your Connectors Circle for an introduction to someone with the qualities you’re looking for. Be specific and be bold.
4. Slide into those DM’s (33:35)
Honestly, I’d be willing to bet that at some point in the future, Instagram will grow into one of the biggest online dating venues. If you see someone you like that is commenting on one of your friends posts, go ahead and send them a DM. This also applies to Facebook groups and may be a bit easier, because you can get into more of a conversation. But then follow up with a message, follow up with a friend request. You never know where it might lead.