Valentine’s Day conjures up images of a dozen red roses, sentimental cards, a box of chocolates and a romantic dinner. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Let us examine however, how long these gifts really last. The cards are read and set aside within a few minutes. The dinner will probably be over in a couple of hours. The beautiful red roses, assuming that they’re fresh, will most likely last a good week. As for the box of chocolates, it’s anyone’s guess. At my house they’d be history before the day is over!
Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year when love takes center stage. Regardless of what stage in the relationship we’re in — dating, engaged, newlyweds, married with children or empty nesters — we all seem eager to express our love. Far too often the expression of love lasts about as long as Valentine’s Day itself. What happens on Feb. 15 and beyond?
What then would make the perfect gift — the gift that keeps on giving all year long? We can start by making the effort to find out what makes our “valentine” feel the most loved. The best way to do that is to find a quiet moment, without any outside distractions and have a heart-to-heart conversation. Asking questions like, “what can I do to make your life a little easier” or “how can I be a better husband/wife” can go a long way toward discovering this potential gift.
I use the phrase “potential gift” because knowledge by itself is not enough. The last thing we want to do is ask those meaningful questions, receive honest answers, raise the expectation level and then … do nothing! We would be better off not even broaching the subject to begin with. The key to successful relationships is clearly defined expectations. If reality doesn’t match expectations then it leaves room for a lot of hurt feelings and disappointment. Remember that when expectations and reality match it equals happiness, and on those rare occasions when expectations exceed reality it equals joy!
One thing you can do to ensure that you get the most helpful feedback is to give your loved one some time to think about those question and perhaps even write down a few possible answers before you discuss them. As wonderful a gesture as it is, the likelihood of someone giving you an insightful answer on the spot is not too good. Most of us (hopefully) don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what we want to change in our spouse. So giving them a few hours or a day to think about what would truly be the most helpful change will give you both a better chance at success.
Once we’ve discovered what makes our valentine feel loved, it’s time to go to work. It begins with a sincere commitment to ourselves, to our love and to God that we will consciously and deliberately begin to express our love in the manner requested. Imagine the difference it will make in our relationships if daily deposits are made and received into the love account. Every day becomes an opportunity to put a smile in our loved one’s face. Whether it is an act of service or a kind word, a back rub or just spending alone time together, we can all be a little more loving to those whom we claim to love the most.
This everyday gift is sure to become the best Valentine’s Day present ever!
So let’s make sure we exceed the expectations and discover the joy in being in love again.
Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.