You guessed it...we go all out around our house for this day. In reality, I feel like every day is Valentine's Day. Brad and I have learned to show our love for each other in a way that keeps us constantly aware of how we complete each other, and we both appreciate how special that is and how lucky we are.
It's not ALL luck. Sure, we have our spats, disagreements, tired or irritable moods, and occasional hurt feelings. We handle them pretty well, and we learn from them. We were both blessed with families where we felt loved as children, and learned a lot about what a healthy relationship looked like from our parents' marriages. We weren't ALWAYS this "love smart", but we WERE both in long term first marriages that ended, and we learned what DOESN'T work.
What I teach my couples in therapy about healthy relationships is what we try to live each day. (THAT is at least a weeks worth of blog topics for sometime...) In a nutshell, I believe that there are three key areas in a great marriage:
1. Having a solid friendship: common goals and values, laughing and having fun together, enjoying some of the same things (and respecting different interests or passions), appreciating each other's strengths and accepting each other's limitations, easy companionship and joy of being together.
2. Passion and Romance: Attraction, romantic love, sex, playfulness
3. Intimacy: Trust, respect, communication, being able to feel safe - even when most vulnerable. Intimacy is knowing that you get to be completely yourself (the good, the bad and the ugly), and your partner will still love you, and vice versa.
*In contrast, what will KILL a relationship is criticism, contemptuous looks, blame, control, manipulation, disrespect, dishonesty, lack of responsibility, mistrust, withdrawing attention and affection, and avoiding difficult issues.
Nurture your love. Pay attention to each other. Think about what is good for the "us".
Love yourself. Appreciate. Share feelings. Air problems in a respectful way. "Fight" fairly. Take responsibility. It's really easy!
So lets get back to Valentine's Day festivities!
We give each other numerous cards, with beautiful, "mushy", heartfelt love notes written inside. We exchange a gift. We eat a lovely dinner. We are affectionate. I'll leave the rest to the imagination.
We had our "Valentine Dinner last night, as Brad is home on Wednesdays. I will post photos and recipes of it tomorrow. I promised Valentine food all week, so here is a preview of dessert:
Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!