Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Some couples like to use this opportunity to have a romantic dinner together and exchange gifts. Others may feel that they don’t need one publicly designated day a year to proclaim and celebrate their love – especially with the inflated prices of Valentine’s related events and merchandise.

 

Different responses are valid for different couples: buy presents and hit the town if that’s what you feel like; or stay at home and just enjoy each other’s company. But even if you are a staunch Valentine’s cynic, cupid’s message of love will be hard to ignore. Instead of resisting the celebration, you can be inspired by its core intent – the expression of romantic love – beneath the commercialism. Use St Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to focus on your loving relationship.

Dr John Gottman suggests that fondness and admiration for each other are crucial for long-term happiness in a couple’s relationship. He believes that you can enhance those feelings by consciously contemplating the positive qualities of your partner.

If you have not complimented your partner for a while, here is an opportunity for you to express your fondness and say out loud: “I am so proud of you,” or “I am so attracted to you”. Gottman encourages us to go one step further and to name specifically those qualities you admire in your partner: “I really like that you are so reliable, even when you are busy you always have time for me, like you did yesterday”.

To give your relationship that boost, start noticing the positive qualities and characteristics of your partner. Start with a simple: “I appreciate you being …” Resourceful, Decisive, Supportive, Dedicated, Funny, Tender, Affectionate…

Right now, think about your Valentine, take a few moments to recall his or her positive qualities and how they make you happy. Then make sure you share your appreciation of them.

The cynics may have a good point: you don’t have to wait for that one day on the calendar to express your fondness and admiration for your partner. Take on the Valentine’s Day message of love and work it into your relationship throughout the year.

 

(Source: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman and Nan Silver, Orion 1999)