Keep Valentine’s Day coming all year long
In my first article I put forth the idea that our primary relationship (marriage or significant love relationship) is probably the most important relationship in our lives. We see this clearly in how we feel in our lives when our relationship is in a close, loving and safe place and how we feel in our lives when our relationship is distant and argumentative, and feels to us like a porcupine. In the first situation we tend to experience the world around us as positive, happy and light, while in the second situation we tend to experience our world as more gloomy, negative and difficult. In short, how we are feeling in our primary relationship ripples out to include our entire lives.
I also pointed out that when we acknowledge our partners, appreciate them and attend to them in a loving manner, it has the effect of putting a more positive spin on our relationship dynamics. Given that, this upcoming Valentine’s Day offers us the opportunity to focus on the appreciative and loving aspects of our relationship. It offers us an opportunity to express these to our mate. I firmly believe that the vast majority of us really savor romantic expressions of appreciation and love coming our way and that we tend to receive less of that than we would like. So, as promised, I will now discuss specific ways and ideas for gifting our loved ones and partners in a way that they will feel truly loved and appreciated.
First of all and of utmost importance is that I want to hit the “mark.” The “mark” is that those whom I love feel truly loved, honored and appreciated as the result of my thoughtful and heartfelt expression of love and appreciation. Secondly, for that to happen requires focusing on our partners and what, to them, would be received as a loving and appreciative act.
To aid our focusing we might ask ourselves the question: What specifically makes my loved one feel loved and appreciated? Examples: an evening out without the children, slow dancing in the living room to “our song,” dressing up and going out on the town, a love note written on the bathroom mirror, receiving flowers at work with a loving note, cooking her/his favorite dinner, breakfast in bed, skiing together at the same pace, an overnight at a romantic hotel, an evening home alone with dinner brought in, a DVD and intimacy, a full body massage, a foot massage, a surprise activity, a pre-planned activity (does he/she like or dislike surprises?), a gift of an item of clothing, jewelry, something edible, lingerie, reading to one another in bed, a note expressing all the ways she/he is loved and appreciated by me.
Another question that will help identify things that make him/her feel loved and appreciated is: During the romantic phase of our relationship (when we first met and fell in love), what made them feel loved and appreciated? These would be things that we did for one another then that have since dropped out but may still be savored by our mates. Examples are telling the other all the ways that you love them, writing poetic love verses to the other, taking walks together hand in hand, weekends at the coast, watching funny movies together, dancing together at home and/or away from home, reading the Sunday paper together over coffee, phone calls to one another during the day to express our love, a love note in the purse/wallet/briefcase, silly and spontaneous fun things.
To further your quest, think about what you have noticed the other saying, looking at, or commenting on regarding things of interest to them. Examples: While window shopping or wandering around Costco or the like, he/she is examining some item or makes a comment of interest about some item – you file that away in your memory – a particular performer she/he really likes, things remarked about while looking in a catalogue or watching a commercial, music the other really likes.
I like to give or receive a love or appreciation inventory. This is a list written in a creative manner or read to the other or presented in some romantic way wherein you itemize all the specific and global ways in which you love that person and what makes he or she so important to you and all the things you appreciate about the other. Include in your list specific physical characteristics, things the other says and does and particularly endearing and honoring aspects of their personality. End this list with really powerful statements such as: “You are the best thing that has ever happened to me,” or “You are such an amazing person.” It really tends to hit the “mark” for both the giver and receiver. Be sure to deliver it in a manner that is not embarrassing for the other.
Hopefully, all these ideas and the overall idea regarding the expression of our love and appreciation for one another will get you thinking and creating your own special and unique expression of love for the Valentine’s Day honoring. If you think that this is just a one time thing, a once per year event, you are seriously mistaken. The fact is that relationships, just as all other things in our lives, take ongoing care and maintenance. It is also a fact that people tend to provide the care and maintenance to the other things in their lives with the unconscious expectation that their relationship is just supposed to work. Below are more ideas to consciously put into your relationship on a regular basis that have the effect of maintaining and enhancing the loving, romantic feelings between the two of you.
Every day of the year, each of us express to the other at least one appreciative comment. Every day, upon leaving one another and upon coming together again, spend a few moments with hugs, kisses and “I love yous” – and not just in a superficial manner. Create some togetherness rituals such as a weekly date night, a daily evening walk together, sitting together upon coming home and sharing with one another the experiences of our day, reading to one another in bed (such as a bedtime story), bringing coffee to bed in the morning, fun time together as a family each weekend, fixing a surprise dinner, creating a surprise weekend getaway. Use the ideas you have come up with in thinking about Valentine’s Day all year long. Be sure to laugh together: funny movies, fun games, spontaneous fun play, jokes.
Life is too precious, and the moments fly by so very quickly. With proper care and maintenance, our relationship can be the light of our life. A very good way to learn the tools (e.g. communication) and gain the understandings necessary to create that close, loving and intimate relationship I believe we all desire, is to study about relationships. Read some books, get some videos, go to a counselor/coach and come to one of our weekend workshops, which do such a magnificent job of giving people what is needed to create that great relationship.
Rolf Godon Ph.D. is a long-time psychologist in Truckee who specializes in helping relationships work well. He and his life partner Tanzy Maxfield together present weekend couples workshops. He may be reached at 587-2557.
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Kelley R. Carroll, a certified specialist, handles estate planning and will contests in our office with the help of our firm’s litigation department. I do not handle any, be forewarned.