Heart to heart: Savoring your Valentine
To begin, I want to bring to your attention a marvelous opportunity to validate and deepen your loving relationship; even to rekindle the flames of love if they have cooled. Valentines Day is just around the corner. Over the years I have written about it and this year we are, once again, offering an evening gathering for couples. On Friday evening, Feb. 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. we will be gathered at For Goodness Sake in downtown Truckee. We will be guiding couples through a series of experiences designed to help them deepen their communication, share their appreciation for one another, and learn about one anothers love codes, all in an atmosphere of caring and enjoyment. We will be writing love letters to our mates and engaging in fun activities with one another, all of this designed to deepen our connection with one another. The lessons of the evening are ones that couples will find useful and take home for future use. Here are the logistics:When: 7 to 9 p.m., Friday, February 9.Where: For Goodness Sake, 10157 Donner Pass Road, Downtown TruckeeWho: Sponsored by For Goodness SakeRolf Godon Ph.D. and P. Tanzy Maxfield will facilitate the programContact: To reserve a place call For Goodness Sake at 550-8981. Participation is limited to 15 couples. Each couple is invited to bring a loving food item to share with the group.For Goodness Sake is a relatively new addition to our wonderful, divergent community, serving as a center for personal and spiritual growth. They offer programs for children, families and individuals, as well as regular meditation groups and spiritual growth classes. Inspirational speakers and special events are scheduled regularly. They also offer a library and bookstore with more than 700 spiritually based books, magazines, DVDs, CDs and tapes to borrow or purchase. All of the programs held at For Goodness Sake are free or low-cost.
For those who might be wondering whether Valentines Day is just a fabrication of Hallmark and other commercial establishments, here is the straight truth. While our commercial enterprises have seized the opportunity to enhance their profit margin, the Valentines event actually originated some 2000 years ago. Legend has it this holiday originated to commemorate the death of St. Valentine. According to the legend, St. Valentine was in prison and fell in love with his jailers daughter, who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, he allegedly wrote her a letter which he signed. From your Valentine. And that was the origin of the expression perpetuated to this day. Now that we understand this day has a respectable origin, we can seize the opportunity to take that energy of a deep expression of love and focus it toward our wife, husband, soul mate, life partner. Sometimes it is helpful to receive an external shove to get us to focus on something or someone, and Valentines Day is that reminder to look at our mate with loving eyes and a loving heart and to express our love in ways our partner perceives as truly heartfelt, nurturing and loving.
I frequently hear, in my psychological work with couples, a strong feeling expressed by either one of both members of the couple of being taken for granted, of not feeling loved and appreciated. We fall in love and during the moments of that early love we are very attentive to one another, both when we are present together, as well as when we are not with each other. We are on each others minds while we are at work, exercising and relaxing at our home. The connection is strong and we want frequent contact and we want to give and be with the other in a way that will make him or her happy and feel loved. As our relationship progresses toward increasing commitment that early love fades, as do the behaviors that accompany it. Relationship challenges emerge and we tend to become more protective of ourselves and feel more distance. We go about our life tasks, settling into the roles and routines of our lives. We miss those loving times and yearn for their return.
Like everything else in our lives, if we want to succeed at something we must put a strong and conscious focus on it, study it, take lessons, practice frequently and so forth. The same holds true for our relationships. That is the opportunity embedded in Valentines Day. Following are a set of steps I believe are essential to enhancing, creating, and re-creating that deep loving bond we once experienced with one another:l. Reminisce on those early times when you experienced that soul mate connection with one another. And on moments between then and now when you experienced that wonderful closeness. Re-create those feelings in your minds eye so they feel quite real. If you dont remember having those kinds of feelings, imagine in present and future time feeling very emotionally safe and connected with you partner.2. If you want to reclaim or intensify past feelings in your relationship, then consciously create a full commitment in yourself to achieve that beginning now.3. Since the vast majority of us do not have the tools and understandings to achieve this goal, we must now create a strategy for learning and practicing.a. Research what is available: books, counselors, teachers, coaches, programs.b. As a couple, set regular time aside that is of high frequency and specific as to days and times to engage in focused work to achieve your relationship goals. This would include getting coaching, partaking in programs, reading books together and practice sessions.c. Be extremely patient with yourself and your partner. We all have many old habits and reactions that are very difficult to override. d. Know that as with anything, our relationships take ongoing attention, utilization of skills and understandings and an ongoing view of the relationship vision (how we want it to look and feel). There are no quick fixes or magic pills. Dedicated attention and commitment over time will achieve the results you desire albeit slowly and certainly not in a straight line. Setbacks are part of the process and your commitment is to get back on the horse and continue riding. Or, as we say here, where we live on the Truckee River: Get back in the raft.While the upcoming Valentines event will be a great beginning, we all cannot attend. If this article sparks an interest and desire in you, call the phone number listed herein. If there is enough interest we will offer additional programs.Rolf Godon Ph.D. is a long-time local and a psychologist specializing in relationship coaching. He and his life partner, P. Tanzy Maxfield, present couples workshops.