February 2012 Reflections





Valentine's Day has been growing in popularity over recent years and many couples now regard it as significant as birthdays or anniversaries.  Over the last couple of weeks it has been hard to ignore the marketing hype surrounding this day.  Like Mother's and Father's Day, it has become another opportunity for retailers and internet marketers to improve their sales by persuading us that we need to buy something special to show our loved one how much we care.  Whilst it is nice to exchange gifts and do something special to celebrate the day, the commercialization of these occasions can lead to people going through a ritual and succumbing to external pressure, rather than taking the opportunity to think about more genuine and authentic ways to show their love and strengthen their relationships.  Valentine's Day is just another day, but what really matters is how you treat each other every day.

According to leading relationship expert John Gottman, real-life romance is kept alive each time you let your partner know he or she is valued during the grind of everyday life".  People have different ways of expressing their love.  In his bestselling book, "The 5 Love Languages", Gary Chapman identifies five primary ways that people understand and express their emotional love and notes that it is rare that couples share the same love language.  Chapman says that the secret to lasting love is for couples to identify and understand their partner's primary love language and learn to incorporate this into their own way of expressing love.

Have a look at the list below and see if you can identify your own love language and that of your partner.

1.  Words of Affirmation

Words are important to you.  You need to be told your partner loves you.  You respond positively to compliments on your appearance, expressions of appreciation for what you have done for your partner and comments on your qualities and what they like, love and respect about you.  You may love getting phone calls, emails or texts which check how you are or remind you they are thinking of you. 

2.   Quality Time

You need time and attention from your partner and feel neglected if this does not occur.  You want to have him/her listen and talk to you, participate in activities together and feel that your partner enjoys your company and you are important to them.   Sharing time together without other distractions is important to you and you need to feel you are a priority.

3.   Giving/Receiving Gifts

As visual symbols of love, gifts can demonstrate your partner is thinking of you and showing you how special you are to them and vice versa.  They are more important to some partners than others.  For some, the greatest gift is the gift of presence - making a choice to be with their partner at a significant time in their life and making them a priority over other conflicting interests/demands.  Appreciation and gratitude can be shown in many different ways.

4.   Acts of Service

This includes responding to your partner's requests for practical assistance or anticipating their needs without being asked - doing little things to surprise them and showing you are thinking of them or mindful of their needs or caring for their wellbeing.

5.   Physical Touch

This is one of the most powerful ways to communicate emotional love and should not be confined to the bedroom.  Reaching out to your partner in a variety of ways - not only in a sexual sense - holding hands, hugging them when they are distressed, caressing them gently or stroking their hair, giving them a massage when they are tired or stressed.


Having identified your own  primary love language, think about your partner.  What is their primary love language and how does this match with you?  By learning how to recognize and respond using your partner's love language, you will improve communication and intimacy and avoid many of the misunderstanding couples have surrounding different ways of expressing their love.

As many relationship experts have noted, a relationship is like a garden - you need to care for it.  It needs to be fed and maintained on a regular basis or it will shrivel and die.  Showing gratitude, appreciation and patience are all part of the process which leads to a relationship which flourishes.  Cultivating attitudes which are supportive and nurturing of your partner are critical for a relationship to weather the challenges it will inevitably face after the initial "honeymoon period" passes.   Understanding and acceptance is something we all need and giving this is a priceless gift.

So go ahead and celebrate this Valentine's Day whichever way feels right for you both, but don't forget the many ways of expressing your love and practice these with your partner every day.  Remember the gift of intimacy is a gift that will last long after flowers and chocolates have gone.

If you think your relationship could do with a bit of work to liven it up again, then I would be very happy to assist you.  Call me on 0438 855328 or email me at dawnvincent@bigpond.com to make a time.



 Raising children can place stress on relationships and at times we all need a bit of help.  My colleague Janet Powell, The Parenting Coach, offers individual coaching and parenting programs for couples who are looking to learn ways to make their life easier.  Contact Janet on 9889 3991 for enquiries and details of her next course.


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