Valentine’s Day is supposed to be romantic. A day for lovers. A day set aside to wine and dine, woo, seduce and celebrate the one person you’re closest to. But reality doesn’t always work as smoothly as it’s supposed to, and sometimes couples have nasty arguments, blow-out fights, withdraw from each other, withhold sex and/or affection, threaten to leave, have affairs (of the heart or the body), speak hateful words and can act insensitive, mistrusting, rejecting, self-centered or cold-hearted.
Couples who love each other can also hate each other, and can treat each other rudely, disrespectfully, uncaringly or mean-spiritedly. So what do you do, if perchance, this Valentine’s Day finds the two of you not terribly happy or content with each other?
Here are some suggestions:
- Defensiveness and anger tend to shut communication down. It’s the wise person that listens carefully before responding, and listens for what s/he can do to address the feelings, needs or requests of the other, without needing to be “right” or making the other person “wrong.” And this communication needs to be positive—not whining, complaining, angry, sarcastic, rude or dismissing. Neither interrupts or cuts the other off when attempting to express him/herself.
- Happy couples clearly communicate their desires and needs to each other on a regular basis, so that each knows what matters and is important to the other. Both partners can make requests of each other, and those requests will be taken to heart and honored if at all possible.
- Each partner needs to be in control of his/her negative emotions, such as anger, hurt, jealousy, fear and anxiety. That means that I do not take out the frustration, anger or hurt I have about other things out on you, and you need not fear that you will be the main recipient of my negative energy, hostility, argumentativeness, disrespect or anger.
- Happy couples spend time together. They make their intimate relationship a top priority in their lives. They don’t spend their “prime time” too tired or preoccupied with other things.
- There needs to be a sense of true partnership between equals. Major decisions (and many of the minor ones) are made jointly. Both feel that the division of labor is more or less equal as it relates to parenting, chores, housework, cooking, cleaning, earning money and spending money.
- There needs to be an attitude of unselfishness. Looking out at the world binocular rather that monocular. Your needs, wants, feelings and preferences are treated equally to mine.
- Happy couples treat each other well. We all want to be treated with kindness, benevolence and respect, and we all want to feel cherished. What to you do to communicate to your intimate partner that your truly cherish him or her? How well and how often is this communicated?
- Practice tact/diplomacy. Saying things carefully so you’re not unnecessarily hurtful or wounding. Being loving to your partner even in his/her unlovliness.
- Good communication is reciprocal sharing, which is more than just bombarding someone with your thoughts and feelings. It is about knowing the difference between “talking at” and “talking with” someone, and being interested and inquisitive about the other person’s needs, desires, and feelings.
- Putting the other person first. This does not mean ignoring your own needs or feelings. It means that people who love each other tend to give more than they take. They act as if they truly care about the other person’s happiness, and regularly go out of there way to care for, please or pamper their partner. There is a generosity of spirit, a responsiveness to you, and I make important to me what’s important to you.