Are you really worried about what to do for Valentine’s Day this year? Are you trying to find something really special because you feel things are not going very well with your partner at the moment? Arguments are blowing up out of nowhere, and you are left at the end feeling hurt and wondering what is really going on? Where did that row come from, and more importantly, where is it leading? Is there panic about the future somewhere in your thoughts and feelings?
Gifts (wine, flowers, chocolates, an expensive meal, even a romantic weekend away) are not going to solve this one. Instead, try an open heart.
Yes, it sounds a bit sentimental, a bit lovey-dovey, and quite scary. Does it mean making yourself even more vulnerable to the hurt you already feel? After all, your partner knows just which buttons to press when you are disagreeing, and you know how difficult it is to protect yourself.
So yes, it is risky, you will be allowing yourself to become vulnerable and possibly to be hurt, and isn’t that just what’s happening already?
If you and your partner have been together for some time s/he will already have knowledge and experience of what makes you tick. Even if s/he is not particularly aware of it, this knowledge will be fuelling the attacks you have felt. What have you got to lose by being aware and open yourself? If you approach a discussion feeling defensive and/or angry this will communicate itself before you say a word and will probably generate similar feelings in your partner. Real contact will have been stopped before it has started. Try to begin from a neutral place, leave your unhappy memories in the past and hold on to the fact that your partner cares about you – we don’t quarrel with people we feel nothing about – so don’t ask for explanations or apologies, imagine a clean sheet and go on from there.
Remind yourself of the qualities which attracted you to your partner in the first place. Has your partner lost them, or is it that you don’t notice them any longer? Why not write them down and then share them with your partner: “What I really love about you is . . . ” Try not to anticipate a reaction. Keep going, even if the response is not everything you hope for. Listen to whatever reply your partner makes, and try to hear the positive in it. How often do we hear what we expect rather than what has really been said? This is the one occasion on which we can say “You always do . . .” – something positive, praise not criticism. Try your best to open up real communication, by listening and reacting and responding in this moment, without bringing along all the disagreements of the past. What would it be like simply to accept what your partner says and take things from there? After all, if you have felt misunderstood and been hurt and angered the chances are that your partner has experienced something similar. Don’t accuse or apologise, just start afresh. This moment is what we have, all we have – live it, don’t waste it.
I am not suggesting that you allow yourself to be bullied or browbeaten, simply that you open your heart and your mind to the most important person in your life at this time on this day and see what happens.
Of course, doing this is not just for Valentine’s Day. Try not to slip back into the old patterns on 15 February. Keep your faith in your partner and in yourself. If things don’t improve you will both need to reassess where you are going, but the chances are that in time your partner will respond positively to your more positive approach, and that your relationship will be on a positive path for the future. What better gift could you give?
If you require