By Jill Early, M Ed, LPC Intern and Jerry Duncan, M Div, LMFT
Valentine’s Day is a time designated for demonstrating how much we value another person. Some people associate it with things like chocolates, jewelry, expensive dinners, and/or greeting card companies making billions of dollars. Unfortunately, it is also a time when many people feel anxious about whether they are right in their “guessing” what would demonstrate that sense of being valued for the other person.
Therein lies the problem in most relationship decisions. We tend to operate as though “I should just know” or “he/she should just know” when it comes to most decisions regarding what helps the other person feel loved in a close relationship. This could include holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, weekends, social preferences, or simply where to go to dinner. This belief often leads to a fear of simply asking or simply telling each other our preferences. We act as if telling each other what we prefer diminishes the thoughtfulness of what is given, done, or expressed, and then “it doesn’t mean as much”.
This belief also reveals another relationship challenge called “ignorance”. That word may sound pretty harsh and is laden with emotion; therefore a definition is important for clarity. It means the absence of information. Our culture, our families, our schools, (pick someone to blame if you want), only teach us to talk, not communicate. If we ask for the solution to above-mentioned problem, most don’t know the answer because we were never taught or had it modeled for us.
The solution is to learn how to:
- express our honest feelings
- ask for information that we need but don’t have
- discover what another person INTERPRETS as being an expression of love, adoration, and being highly valued
Consider these steps:
- Both partners read the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
- Discuss what you read
- Clearly TEACH the other person what helps YOU genuinely believe you are loved
An example for Valentine’s Day that can be applied to everyday situations might sound like this:
“Because I love you so much, it is really important to me that I make Valentine’s Day the best day it can be for you in ways that you would most want for me to do them. Would you be willing to let me know what some of those ways might be?” The answers will vary widely from the usual to the unexpected, from jewelry/chocolate/flowers to vacuum out my car, clean the big window in the den, give me a massage that isn’t sexual, or just ignore it altogether. The list of answers could be infinite and surprising.
May you have the courage to ask then act on what you learn. May your Valentine’s Day and your relationships be more rewarding and intimate because of your efforts!