5 Ways to Cultivate Real Love this Valentine’s Day (and Every Day!)

Valentine’s Day. You either love it or hate it.

For the last three years, hubby and I have celebrated our anniversary as a priority (ten days earlier) far from the crowds and general cheesiness of the holiday. (Sorry, die-hard romantics!) It might sound like a cop-out but it works for us. I have also personally learned that true love is more than random, grand romantic gestures It’s about daily sacrifices – dragging myself out of bed to make hubby a morning coffee (as he has done for me on countless occasions) or quietly packing away the 20 pairs of shoes spread out all over our home without moaning or making a fuss! It’s also about being intentional in the way you show love and appreciation to your partner, something that came up in conversation with some of my married girlfriends at our recent monthly dinner (aka free therapy session!).

I am currently reading a great book (‘Make it Happen’ by Lara Casey) and in it she speaks about the ‘in love’ stage, and how this feeling generally lasts for about two years before that ‘obsession’ fades and you revert back to being the person you were before you ‘fell in love’ (a concept first explored in Gary Chapman’s ‘The Five Love Languages’). True love cannot begin until the “in love” experience has run its course. Valentine’s Day celebrates and glorifies this ‘in love’ feeling but I’m sure all you SBB readers know that a lasting marriage depends on a lot more than just how we feel. It depends on clear communication, how we decide to respond to tricky situations, mutual respect and yes, LOVE of course, but not that mushy Hollywood stuff – the real, hard, true type of love that you learn when you put others’ needs ahead of your own. (I’m sure many of you ladies might have chosen 1 Corinthians 13 vs 4-8 for your ceremony or vows – go and read it again now!)

So in the spirit of cultivating REAL love this Valentine’s Day, how about starting with one of these five intentional practices.

  • Have a social media free weekend. Put your phone on airplane mode. Take pictures and selfies to your heart’s content, but wait till Monday to share them with the world.
  • Be present. Whatever you do this Valentine’s Day, be focused on the time you are sharing with your loved one. Try not to think about work or your plans for tomorrow or that thing that someone said that unsettled you. Really enjoy and savour the food you are eating, breathe in the sunset at your romantic picnic, don’t worry too much about following the recipe to the tee, if you are cooking together – enjoy the process!
  • Don’t compare. All of our partners show love in different ways. Some people will do the grand romantic gesture thing and that works for them, but if pizza, wine and a movie is your V-Day plan of action, that’s awesome too! Comparison is the thief of joy, so don’t compare.
  • Manage expectations. Don’t be disappointed that your partner didn’t plan the lavish, candle-lit, five course dinner you were dreaming about, if you didn’t communicate that to him! Our partners aren’t mind readers (although wouldn’t it be great if they were)! Make suggestions and plan events together. Involve each other in the planning or do them a favour by dropping a few subtle hints!
  • Be thankful and grateful. Your relationship and your shared journey is unique to the two of you. Appreciate the little things, whether it is a great hug, a message during the day to check in on how you are doing, or even shoes that are put back in the cupboard instead of left lying around. ;)

Let us know what you are doing to cultivate real love and feel free to share with us what your V-Day plans are! We would love to hear your thoughts on this holiday. And, in the words of a lovely friend of mine, “Any day that gives you an excuse to be romantic is never a bad thing!” Indeed!

Images: Anastasiya Belik via Magnolia Rouge (top) | Moira West on SouthBound Bride