Here it comes… that one day every year that can make us feel great or horrible. I am in a relationship, and although I look forward to Valentine’s Day, I also anticipate it with a bit of…. anxiety. Like most women, I have been taught that how my partner treats me on Valentine’s Day is a kind of barometer for the state of our relationship. Is that fair? Definitely not. But does it get in there anyway? Definitely.

If you are in a relationship, no matter how long, you and your partner are impacted by our culture’s messages about what defines successful relationships. It has taken years for me to get rid of those cultural messages, and negotiate with my partner how we want to define success.

Step one: talk about your expectations regarding gift giving and celebrating important events. I come from a family of gift givers. The more personal, the better. My partner does not. Does that mean we lack love, devotion, and passion if gifts aren’t exchanged? No way. But hurt feelings can arise, and we have found that talking about what we each want can help a lot.

Step two: Try to give your partner what they want. Not what you want to give. We give our partners what we have daily throughout the years; hopefully it is what they want too at least some of the time. Sometimes it will be and sometimes it won’t. On those few special holidays, try to meet your partner’s wishes. It will feel great on both sides.

Step three: Remind yourself that people show love in a variety of ways. Sometimes an act of service, like taking care of the dishes, kitty litter, washing the car, can be the way your partner says I love you and care about you. Sometimes it’s with words or text or music, sometimes gifts.

Step four: Say thank you and mean it. On Valentine’s day, as on all holidays, it Is the thought that counts. Remind yourself of all the ways your partner shows you love throughout the year, and celebrate what is special about your relationship.

If you and your partner are having trouble or want to learn ways of improving things between you, come to our seminar on February 28. We will chat about the ups and downs of being in a relationship, and how to increase those ups!

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