Valentine's Day Throughout the Year

– By Sharon Ashton and Raksha Dave-Gates (Counselling Psychologists)

Be Mine, Valentine!  February 14 has become a day of sending affectionate cards, giving chocolates or flowers, or even small gifts as tokens of love for another.  Valentine exchanges range from the innocent cards passed between elementary school children to celebrations of intimacy within deeply committed love relationships.

Valentine greetings, movies, popular music, romance literature, and television sitcoms often zero in on the veryearly relationship stage of falling in love.  During this stage, romanticpartners are on their best behavior and each tends to put their partner on apedestal.  Over time, when human faults and conflicts inevitably can no longerbe ignored, couples may choose to undertake the attitudes and behaviors that nurture and develop deeper love.

In “Learning to Love Yourself”, SharonWegscheider-Cruse lists the following guidelines for developing and maintaining intimacy:

  • Set aside time every day to talk.  Research says that the average couple spends a mere nine minutes a day in face to face conversation.  As counsellors, we recommend devoting at least thirty minutes daily to reconnecting with your partner.
  • Look for solutions for your differences, preferably resolve them, or if necessary, agree to disagree. Then move on. Old issues that continue to resurface create gradual buildup of distrust and resentment.
  • Listen carefully to hear your partner’s feelings as they discuss difficult issues.  Hearing their feeling will help you understand them. Your understanding will motivate you to make appropriate changes in your behavior.
  • Decide with your partner to be selective about the kinds of information that you both choose to keep private and what will be appropriate to share with others like children, family members or friends. Carelessly letting others step in to your most intimate relationship will dilute the relationship and lead to distrust between partners.
  • Develop a climate of care in your home. You can do this by writing love notes and leaving them where they will surprise your partner. Give the gift of caring touch often.  Make your mealtimes free of bickering or negativity.
  • Become good at creating moments of healthy laughter—have lots of fun, be silly!  Laughter produces healing physical chemistry.
  • Break no-talk rules.  If something is bothering you, decide to talk directly about it rather than hinting or expecting your partner to read your mind.
  • Join the frequent fighter program.  This program will only work if you learn to fight constructively, fairly, and respectfully.  Avoiding difficult conversations will produce distance and drain energy from your relationships.
  • Find meaning outside your relationship in some search for higher purpose or spiritual development.  If both partners are on a similar path their journey will draw them even closer together.

Consistently following these guidelines will support growth of the closest, and most intimate level of relationship. Whether youwant to become closer with a romantic partner, a friend, or a family member,these guidelines provide a template to get you started.  Valentines Day doesn’thave to be limited to only one day of the year!