Now that Valentine's Day has passed, it might not be a bad time for men to reflect on the importance of our role in our families — not just as fathers to our children, but as partners to our significant others.

This is especially true given the fact that popular stereotypes and traditional mores often give men license to be ambivalent about these relationships. How many of us have witnessed, either through the media or in real life, a man who puts little to no effort to remember special occasions or his wife's birthday or anniversary? How about when he completely forgets about it?

Not only is this accepted with a wink, but I know some guys who go so far as to make it a point of pride, which is a shame when you really get down to it. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that family should never be taken for granted. While I can appreciate an aversion to sappy sentimentality, it doesn't take much to let someone know she's on your mind. Sometimes all a person wants is to be acknowledged.

In light of this, why not take a moment to tell your wife or girlfriend that you're thinking about her, or better yet, that you love her? She will appreciate it, your kids will celebrate the fact that their parents care about each other, and you'll come out a great husband and dad.

Here are seven easy ways to make it happen.

1. Do embarrassing things now and then — just do them privately.

It's hard for men to be loving and affectionate in the presence of other guys, so seize the moments when you're alone. Your partner will understand, and she would never make fun of you or embarrass you. If she does, it may be time to re-think that relationship.

2. Use technology.

What better way to discretely communicate a thoughtful message than with an email or text? Technology is so prevalent today that it makes it easy, and if anything, it is the acceptable way to express yourself.

3. Kiss her whenever you get the chance.

All it takes is a quick peck on the lips when you say hello or goodbye, and it will speak volumes about your feelings for her. If you really want to send her a message, give her two pecks.

4. Hold her hand.

Physical contact sends powerful messages to your partner and feels good for you, too. In long term relationships, simple expressions of affection tend to fall by the wayside, and deserve a revival.

5. Give her a little squeeze now and then.

Again, you can't downplay the effect of physical contact, not just to indicate affection, but as an expression of physical attraction, as well.

6. Don't limit it to one day.

Anniversaries and birthdays are great occasions to tell her you love her, but what about the other 364 days? These are all chances to let your significant other know how much they mean to you, so don't squander the opportunity.

7. Just say it.

Three simple words, which for some guys are akin to torture. This idea is promoted by popular culture, but it doesn't have to be that way. Saying, "I love you," will mean the world to your wife or girlfriend, of this I have no doubt. So why not say it as often as possible?

Relationship maintenance

Let's face it, relationships take a lot of work, and when you have children, the challenges become even greater. As I look around me and see how many of our friends are splitting up and going their own way, I can't help but think that families are under siege. The problem is exacerbated by our infatuation with celebrity culture and their fickle, self-absorbed ways.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm fully aware that many in toxic relationships, splitting up is the best option. However, I know of instances where it was just a case of looking for something better, thereby making things complicated, even ugly. In the end, it is the children who suffer.

As we get busier, it is easy for couples to drift apart, making it all the more important to work hard at maintaining a healthy relationship. Starting with the small things is the easiest place to begin, and if anything, they can have a big impact.

So take a moment to let your partner know you care, and that you love her. She will appreciate it, your kids will be happy to see their mom and dad madly in love, and you'll feel good about yourself. What more could a guy ask for?