To create a truly lovely Valentine's month and build more joy, love, and peace in your life, I offer you ten tips for building and sustaining good personal and intimate relationships. This article full of numbers is followed by eight Valentine gifts that don't cost any money and blatantly show your love.
1. Accept and respect differences and remember that you are a team. Solve differences together, looking for the best win-win solution and respecting each others' position rather than trying to strong arm the other person or feel like you're sacrificing what's important to you by routinely giving in.
2. Maintain your integrity in order to build and keep trust. That means stay true to yourself and speak up honestly about what you think and feel. Keep honest communication going.
3. Listen to really understand what the other person thinks. Communication involves fifty percent of the time actively listening and fifty percent of the time sharing what is true for you.
4. Communicate constructively. When you are trying to make a point or are in the grip of emotions, stick to talking about what you feel, want, or believe about a specific topic. That means refrain from blaming, finger pointing, criticizing, and advice-giving (you-ing) and stay away from overgeneralizations, such as "always" and "nevers." Address one topic at a time, resisting bringing in other unresolved issues.
5. Go for tenderness -- give copious appreciations, praise, and support. We never get tired of someone genuinely pointing out our positive qualities and actions. And keep quiet and soak in praise and appreciation from others.
6. Deal with your emotions constructively. That means don't target the other person when you feel angry but own your sadness, anger, and fear as something within you. Apologize when you don't, and go have a good cry, tantrum, or shiver and shake to clear the emotional energy.
7. Choose your battles, which means speak up when it matters -- when you can't let go of something. Don't sweat the small stuff and recognize you can't always get what you want. Focus on what's important -- connection and love.
8. Embrace change. Handle events as they arise, and then let go. Life is a roller coaster, maintaining flexibility and a positive outlook will help you enjoy the ride together.
9. Limit the time you spend in the virtual world. Closeness comes from personal connection. So spend time together to actualize your heartfelt goals of joy, love, and peace.
10. Cultivate shared interests as well as independent activities. Pursuits outside the relationship balanced with quality time together, where you support each other with problems and attaining goals, brings a healthy mix to the relationship cake.
It’s easy to get stumped about what to do to express yourself for Valentine's Day. I talk to many clients who express anxiety about the love day, and this is what I say.
Don't focus on what others’ are going to do or buy to show their honey that they are special. Instead, think of it as an occasion to honor your love, and to convey how much you value, respect, and admire him or her. With that as your goal, celebrating this holiday is actually very easy, and it won't cost you a penny.
1. Write down what you appreciate.
Write a list of qualities that you appreciate about your loved one, and put those words in a card, poem, or a short video of you reading the list. This can be characteristics they possess or things they have done. Include both specific and general examples.
2. Share your favorite memories aloud.
Write a list of 6 or so of your favorite, most stellar shared memories and retell the events and why they are significant for you.
3. Listen with love.
Set up a comfortable place to talk, and ask questions about life, dreams, wishes, and feelings. Just listen while he or she talks. Don't interrupt. Remind him or her that you won't share this information with anyone.
4. Step out of the box and do something different.
Take the evening off from your normal routine and do something that steps out of your usual routine, like dancing in your backyard or reading a poem aloud in front of the fireplace. Maybe plan an outing to a favorite place, maybe a hike or a stroll to a new destination.
5. Let go of the past.
Valentine's Day is a great day to let go of any grudges you're holding and to accept your loved one, flaws and all. To do this, repeat over and over to yourself, "My partner is the way he is, not the way I want him to be." Or "My partner did what she did. We both did the best we could at the time." Stating these truths to yourself with conviction will help you be able to let go of the past and genuinely say and mean, "I love you.”
6. Be a genie and grant a wish.
Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and offer to take on a chore or an activity that would bring a smile or relieve some stress and strain. Do it in a timely manner with a smile on your face.
7. Embrace the spirit of the day.
Refrain from making negative jokes about Valentine's Day or your partner’s opinion about the day. Regardless of how you feel, only say positive things genuinely. It’s just one day.
8. Fall in love again.
Allow yourself to fall in love anew. Conjure up feelings of a time you were full of love for your Valentine, and keep your focus there in your heart. Give up the mental scorekeeping of your differences and interrupt all your complaints. Recall the way you felt when you first met.
©2018 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.
Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
With practical tools, real-life examples, and everyday solutions for thirty-three destructive attitudes, Attitude Reconstruction can help you stop settling for sadness, anger, and fear, and infuse your life with love, peace, and joy.
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/
* Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace
* Watch video: Shiver to Express Fear Constructively (with Jude Bijou)