Listen and Learn: Over the decades, I have been privy to the attitudes, joys and disappointments of countless Valentine Days. Due to this rich sampling of heart shaped emotionalism, my gift to my readers is the wisdom gleaned from the unique vantage point of the clinician: Think! What Do I Know About My Partner, his/her likes; his/her wants; his/her values; his/her dreams? Let this knowledge be the foundation of my Valentine.
Maximize The Valentine: In short, this most romantic day of the year, as powerful as anniversaries marking love at first sight to nuptial vows, when handled properly, can provide a dab of glue to the bond; a welcomed remembrance of past passion; and fortitude for the future. The GPS suggested here requires a brief inventory of the characteristics, likes and desires of the person with whom you are bonded. Generic gifts of flowers, candy, dirty cards and not so special jewelry may suffice for the first one, two or three shared Valentines. But for those who have notched up five, ten or fifteen plus February 14ths, stretching the boundaries beyond Hallmark may be in order.
Here are My Tips; (This applies to male valentines as well as female, and same gender couples): The opportunity to show your partner/spouse/lover that you do listen, are empathic, or can go beyond your own pleasures, is ripe here. What do I know about my lover? What moves them, attracts them, motivates and inspires them. Honesty is critical here. Does my partner respond to peer pressure, the “in look”? Does serious jewelry connote serious caring? Is date night at a special spot the magic that messages the love? A vacation destination? Fine. Gratify him/her. Does my partner long for a weekend away from the kids, or one night? Make it happen, call a sitter, a family member, a friend and arrange the details. Women particularly see a “plan” made by their hubby/lover as a true sign of caring. It can be a “shared outing” or a night with girls. For the guy, a wife/lover who gets tickets to his fav team, or bird watching outing, is going outside her comfort zone, which conveys a depth of caring that leaves a lasting memory of love. Outside one’s comfort zone!, KEY!
What Rocks His/Her Boat? For some “try a little tenderness”…Young mothers, whose bodies are busy nursing, nurturing and cleaning up, may desire nothing as much as a break from that, or a professional spa day. The body experience that does not involve care taking but its opposite. For some men, a stress less day…or night: a truly romantic and sexual moment or 9 holes of golf. No matter…the gift of knowing is what we are about. Knowing, not judging.
Completing That Job With Kisses and Hearts: Something gratefully received may be “relief from a typical pressure or chore.” Examples might include actually “finishing” a house project long-delayed and sealing it with a heart-shaped hand written message of love. What does your partner yearn for that may not involve shopping? Could it be painting the bathroom or clearing out some closet space for their storage. Here, this is for you, because I love you, I know you need this and Happy Valentine’s day to my love. But add the card or the note or a bouquet draped cross the towel rack. Have some fun!
Food: Could it be something as simple as a home-made meal, a favorite dish, a few candles on the table. Cooked by the man? Think out of the box…and not the heart shaped one from CVS! But if that is the box that touches the heart, that’s cool too. Corny or clever, it doesn’t matter. We are talking about “knowing” your partner, i.e. “acceptance”.
Shared Giving: For many Coupledoms the operative word is “shared”… not what is shared, but that it is shared. Time together, a precious commodity that runs out with age, becomes the most desired Valentine. Less attention is paid to what is given or gotten. Rather what is enjoyed together. Two hearts that overlap.
Happy Valentine’s Day: Being Known and Loved is The Greatest Gift of All.
©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011