by Shela Dean
Valentine’s Day is upon us. I have to tell you, this is not my favorite holiday. It is a day that is supposed to say love but far too often underscores what is far too common: everyday neglect. If you’re not treating every day as Valentine’s Day, then there aren’t enough red roses, chocolates, cute Cupid boxer shorts, and over-the-top mushy cards to make up for it. In fact, if you’re neglecting your spouse, the bigger the gift, the more painful the reminder will be that you’re an emotionally absent spouse.
What we take for granted, we lose. A relationship is a dynamic, vibrant thing. To thrive, it requires daily nurturing in every sense of the word. Consider this: if you’ve got a plant sitting on your window sill and you water it once a year, on February 14, it’s not going to live long. The same is true of your marriage.
So, how do you treat every day as Valentine’s Day? You engage in everyday emotional foreplay. That’s doing those thing that make your sweetheart feel high-on-a-pedestal cherished and can’t-live-without-you adored. It’s being thoughtful, kind and supportive—not just occasionally but all the time. You used to do that . . .
When you were dating, just about everything you did was emotional foreplay designed to seduce your sweetheart into loving you and wanting to spend a lifetime together. Once you sealed the deal with a ring, however, you subconsciously sighed in relief and no longer considered it necessary to engage in that emotional seduction. And, to be fair, your focus shifted from the chase to create a life, building a nest, having and raising children, and preparing for your future. The flaw in the-deal-is-sealed thinking, however, is that marriage isn’t a decision we make once and that’s it forevermore. It’s the decision to get married that we make only once. But the decision to stay married is made every day. That’s why it is equally as important to give your spouse everyday reasons to choose marriage as it is to have given your spouse reasons to marry you in the first place.
We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t buy love.” It’s also true that you can’t buy substitutes for those things that genuinely say, “I love you.” A red heart full of candy isn’t going to do it. Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice that there’s a day set aside to celebrate love and I’m all for that. But we should be doing that every single day. It’s not difficult and it doesn’t require grand gestures. In fact, it’s the little things that really make a difference: the offer to help, the thinking-of-you phone call, the well-time compliment, the small gift, the random act of thoughtfulness. Sometimes it’s biting your tongue, ignoring less-than-perfect behavior. It’s being mindful that everything you say and do conveys a message to your sweetheart and making sure it’s an I-love-you message.
If you’re taking your spouse and your marriage for granted, then the best Valentine’s Day gift you can give is to change your ways. Give the gift of everyday emotional foreplay and see how quickly your marriage will thrive and your spouse will have that in-love glow, not just once in a while, but all the time.
Shela Dean is a relationship coach, speaker and bestselling author. Her latest book, available on Amazon and other online booksellers, is ReDate Your Mate, 4 Steps to Falling in Love All Over Again. Please visit her website at www.sheladean.com and join her on Facebook.