With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, we are bombarded with symbols of love. Hearts, chocolate, flowers, cupid. Restaurants are bursting at the seams with diners out for the “most romantic night of the year”. Romantic songs are on constant rotation on the radio. You cannot escape from all the LOVE, which can be great if you feel that you’re a full member of the love club. However, for those who are struggling in a relationship, these can be painful reminders that our own relationships are falling short of the love ideal. We all have different ideas about what it means to love and to be loved. Often, those ideas may even be very different from your partner’s. This is where a feeling of disconnect can occur. For example, imagine Bob and Sue (a fictional couple). Sue makes Bob a cup of coffee every morning and leaves it for him on the counter. At some point, Bob stops drinking the coffee (caffeine is making him a bit too jittery!). Sue stops making the coffee. One day, Bob confesses that he is hurt that Sue is no longer making him that cup of coffee. Sue is confused, because Bob didn’t drink the coffee so why should she make it? Turns out that the simple act of Sue making a cup of coffee for Bob, made Bob feel loved. He felt thought of, cared about, loved. It didn’t matter to him that he didn’t drink the coffee, the sight of that coffee cup on the counter every morning was the meaningful part. Sue had looked at the act in a very practical way, it was not a special ritual in the way Bob had viewed it. If Bob wasn’t drinking the coffee, why make it? Now Sue gets it. That cup of coffee was not about the coffee, it was about loving Bob. She goes back to making the coffee (decaf, of course!).
So often, our acts of loving are missed, or we miss when we are being loved. It is like we are trying to speak to our partners in a different language. We need to start speaking the same language. For this Valentine’s Day, ask your partner “how can I make you feel loved?” Tell your partner what you need to feel loved. You may be surprised at what you discover!