Susan Margaret Barrett
Flowers, chocolate and a romantic dinner can make a great Valentine’s Day, but real love needs to be expressed everyday. The act of love is a deliberate choice that you make to let another person know how much they mean to you. True love is miles above a feeling and the focus should be on the other person rather than on yourself. You often see this deliberate choice in young couples. The young lovers will go to great lengths to make the other person a priority. Often after a couple marries, though, they forget the little things and start demanding rather than giving.
It is the little things that make the big difference. So let’s take the word LOVE and discover some things you could do to make a Valentine Day expression last an entire year.
Listening is so easy, but it is so difficult. Listening does not require much except some discipline, but it speaks volumes to the other person. Here are three examples:
With your eyes. When the other person speaks, simply listen. Turn off the T.V. put down the paper and give them your full attention. A small child will often come up to the parent and literally take the parent’s face and turn it towards them. This is saying, “I need to see your eyes; your eyes tell me you are present.”
With your body. Face the other person when you listen. This is a way to give worth to someone you value. “I value you and want you to know that you are important to me.” This is the old saying, “Hanging on every word.” We all speak differently, and it is learning to understand the other person’s every word.
With your ears. Of the three, this is often the one we do least of all. One of the best ways to listen is when a person speaks, simply repeat back what you heard before you give your opinion. This is a disciplined act that requires time and effort, but it says, “I hear you. I may not agree, but I have heard you. Your opinion is probably different from mine, and I really want to know why, rather than simply to discount you and defend my opinion.” There are always at least two ways of looking at any situation.
Scripture says, “The two will become one flesh.” This is true in a physical relationship, but this should also be the goal in all ways. A team works together. “How can we bring our strengths together, in a win-win approach that is good for the team?” Three things to think about:
In your business, you often have goal statements and purpose statements. Do you have one for your marriage or relationship? What sets you apart from other couples? What defines you as a couple?
I know one couple who have a breakfast together each month with their calendars to communicate what is going on that month with all the members of the family. This allows each person to be aware of what is going on and aids in communication which is the key to any strong relationship.
“Two heads are better than one.” Two people pulling together in the same direction give the relationship power to accomplish things they could never do alone, and this is especially true in times of difficulty. When faced with an issue or conflict, one way to deal with it is to place a pillow in front of the two of you and name the pillow the conflict you are dealing with, i.e. finances, in-laws, sex, household chores, whatever. Then each of you express your view of the issue, rather than attacking the other person. The problem is not each other, but an opportunity to see how the team will solve this issue.
Validation means to support or corroborate. By validating your partner, this love action says they are important, and I choose to continue working with you on the details of life.
You don’t have to agree.
Validation says, “I cherish you; I value your opinion. You matter to me.” As a team, you bring all your strengths together to form a new way of doing things. You don’t have to do it like everyone else or as our parents did. You can agree to disagree and keep at it (how to fold the clothes, how to discipline the children, etc.) until you find a way that works best for the team.
You make the other a priority.
You can listen to all the “experts,” but find a way that works for the team. “I respect your opinion; I respect you. You have a good head on your shoulders, and let’s find a creative way that works for the team. I believe in you, I believe in us, and we will take as long as we need to determine a course of action for us.”
You involve them in your life.
Remember when you were dating, you often wanted to be together all the time. Dating was what we called that action. Take the time to date and just be together, to hear the other speak, to laugh together and just to have some fun. Leave messages scrawled on the mirror or on the steering wheel, texts or voice messages that simply state you are thinking of them.
Relationships are an energizing factor. Statistics show that married couples live longer, make more money and have a greater sexual relationship. Everyone is pulled by a busy world, but the time you spend together as a couple will help you get through the difficulties and give you a sense of hope and encouragement.
To get through the tough times.
Touch has been proven as an effective way to bring health and encouragement. Don’t forget the non-sexual touches, the massages on the back and the comfort of a loving embrace. A mutually meaningful sexual relationship is also a way to energize your marriage and give you energy to withstand the busyness of life.
To get through the mundane.
Having fun together is essential to a loving relationship. Like the 10cc song, “Like walking in the rain and the snow, when there’s nowhere to go.” Watching a movie together, exercising together, hunting together, doing projects around the house. One week she gets to choose a fun thing to do and the next week he gets to choose.
To empower each other.
Listen to the words: “Empower,” and “encourage.” Our role as partners is to give empowerment or courage to the lives of the other, especially when the world is constantly taking away power and energy. As a team, you and your spouse can get through whatever the difficulty is because you are together, and you have chosen each other. “There is no one else with whom I would rather be, than you, right now and forever.”
So there you have it, LOVE. Don’t just let this be something you do for the 14th of February, but put it into practice all 365 days of the year. There are plenty of opportunities and so much time. Make the most of each day and keep adding to the bank account of your treasure. As the deposits continue to be made, you will have enough to cover any withdrawals that are sure to come.
Ron and his wife, Kathy, have been happily married for five years. He was married for nearly
29 years to Karen, the mother of his four sons, who passed away in 2004. His passion is walking alongside couples as they strive to keep their marriages and relationships fulfilling and rewarding, as well as helping engaged couples build strong foundations for a life of marital