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  • Rachael Lindberg

"How can my partner(s) and I make every day feel like Valentine's Day?"

Rachael Lindberg, LPC, SXI, CCTP

Afterglow Counseling & Coaching, PLLC


I couldn’t let February go by without a Valentine’s Day blog post! Most relationship bloggers will recognize Valentine’s Day with a blog about the best Valentine’s date ideas, how to add spice to your sexual relationship, or Valentine’s gift guides. Those blogs can definitely be fun to read and have some really exciting ideas, and I’m a hopeless romantic myself. However, I’d love to highlight how we can choose our partner(s) and celebrate Valentine's Day every day in small ways. The quiet, everyday meaningful moments are what build love, trust, and security within a relationship, not just the grand gesture of chocolates and flower bouquets on Valentine’s Day.  


Some people think there is a magic secret to the success of long-lasting relationships. So many factors contribute to a relationship's success, and success means different things to different people. Even couples/relationship therapists don’t have all the answers to what makes a marriage or relationship last long-term. Still, we have some insight into some of the actions that contribute to the overall environment of a relationship that is characterized by loving feelings, fondness, friendship, trust, commitment, and emotional safety and security. It definitely takes more than just love to make a relationship work. One of the factors that I’ve seen contribute to successful relationships is choice- the choice to make decisions that enhance and contribute to the well-being of each partner and the relationship itself, to prioritize each other, to learn effective communication and conflict management strategies to avoid damaging behaviors, to prioritize the relationship, and, sometimes, even choosing which problems we can live with as we all have flaws and can respect that relationships are not perfect. Below is a list of meaningful actions that show your partner that you love and are committed to them outside of the grand gestures that are usually expected around Valentine’s Day.

 

A couple embraces during a sunset

  • Consistently, and without complaint, do an action that aligns with your partner’s love language. Do these with love and without expectation of anything in return. The actions will continue to foster loving feelings, encourage reciprocity, and promote a positive feedback loop of both partners giving equitable effort to each other’s love languages, even if they differ. Do the actions for your partner in their love language and they can do the same for you.

  • Acts of Service: Without being asked, do a task or chore that they are usually responsible for, run an errand that has been on the to-do list for a while

  • Quality Time: Take a walk together, put away phones or other distractions while eating dinner or on a date, have a consistent routine for quality time

  • Physical Touch: Hold hands while watching TV or while on a walk, ask to cuddle or share an embrace before bedtime, share a hug and kiss when leaving for or returning from work

  • Words of Affirmation: Send a loving text message or words of encouragement, write a sweet note with a memory from your first date

  • Gifts: Pick up a bouquet of flowers on the way home, schedule a reminder to buy a gift for important milestone dates (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays), bring home your partner’s favorite snack or sweet treat

  • Communicate with your partner as if they’re someone you love. We get very comfortable with our partner(s) and they can be an extremely safe space for us. Sometimes that means they are also on the receiving end of our anger and frustrations. While these emotions are valid and should be respected and addressed as they arise, it is important to remember that by communicating with our partners as if we love them (and hopefully you do), then we tend to speak with more understanding, empathy, humor, and openness than if we feel like enemies on different teams. This type of communication can look like responding with enthusiasm instead of annoyance when our partner makes a request (“Sure, babe! I’ll take care of that right now.”), showing genuine interest when your partner is talking about their hobbies or venting about their stresses (“Tell me more about that. I’d love to hear about why that’s important to you.”), and learning how to respond with empathy and validation when they express a concern or difficult emotion (“That sounds really difficult for you. I can understand why you feel that way.”) Using this mindset, we can hopefully minimize invalidating our partner(s) feelings or experiences and reduce communicating with criticism and contempt.  

  • Prioritize your relationship with your partner(s). We live incredibly stressful and busy lives. Because of this, we often live parallel lives to our partner(s) and can slip into what feels more like a relationship between roommates than between lovers/life partners. Prioritizing your relationship can happen in a variety of ways including having a routine for dates (in and out of the home) and physical intimacy, limiting distractions such as cell phones or smartwatch notifications while spending time together, using active listening skills while talking such as nodding your head, asking clarifying questions, and validating statements, following through on requests for tasks or activities that you say you are going to do, or being interested in your partner(s) interests, hobbies, daily life, and goals. Prioritizing each other does take work, and a consistent choice to be an active participant in the relationship is important. 

  • Learn how to use conflict as an opportunity for growth and connection. This is one of my favorite concepts to teach clients in relationship counseling. We are often taught from a young age that conflict means the end of a relationship and that fighting means you are not compatible. We incorrectly think that fighting = a bad relationship, and not fighting = a good relationship. This isn’t necessarily true and conflict can actually be an incredibly connecting opportunity that promotes growth and deepens understanding of your partner(s) perspective. Learning how to have an open dialogue, using active listening skills, being curious instead of judgmental about your partner’s experience, identifying your needs gleaned from the conflict, and communicating understanding and empathy with your partner(s) are extremely powerful tools for using conflict as a growth experience instead of an opportunity for damage to the relationship. 


I recognize that some of these skills are difficult to learn and implement, especially if there’s been a pattern of ineffective communication and damaging conflict in the relationship. If you’re looking to deepen your understanding of your partner and strengthen your relationship, I highly recommend seeking relationship counseling from a skilled licensed mental health counselor who specializes in relationships, communication, and conflict management. Participating in relationship counseling is an investment of your time, finances, and emotions, so if you’re ready to revitalize your relationship and learn how to lovingly choose each other every day, contact Rachael Lindberg, LPC, SXI to see if virtual relationship counseling is a good fit for your counseling journey.


Interested in individual counseling, sex therapy, or relationship counseling? Submit a Contact Form to schedule a free 15-minute initial phone consultation!


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