Each year, lots of men I know cringe with the approach of Valentine's Day. They wonder just what it is that will make the day special for their partners and how they can best communicate love. And we all know that the wrong thing given to a sweetheart can be worse than giving nothing at all.
Well, based on my experience in working with couples, and in my own now nearly 25 years with the same partner, I am offering some simple suggestions.
Commit to ListenThere is nothing that communicates love than a willingness to listen to your partner. I remember a marriage counselor once who told us that women in general have a built-in need to communicate about three times as much as men in general. There are certainly exceptions to this rule, but I believe the general trend is true. Giving your partner quality listening time, and then really listening to her with a goal of understanding, is a much appreciated gift.
Figure Out Her "Love Language"One of the most important books I have ever read on relationships is The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. In fact, my wife and I have given this book as a wedding gift to many young couples. The premise of Dr. Chapman's book is that we all receive love in different ways. The way we receive love best is called our "love language." Dr. Chapman identifies five basic love languages:
- sharing quality time
- physical touch
- expressing words of affirmation
- giving and receiving gifts and
- performing acts of service
When my partner and I read this book, we concluded that Julie received love best by my sharing quality time with her, while I tended to show love generally through performing acts of service. So, even if I cleaned the house from top to bottom and made dinner, she didn't feel love if I didn't make time to spend with her.
Conversely, I best receive love through words of affirmation while Julie was a quality time giver. So she had to learn to tell me often that she loved me, admired me, and told others that she loved me for me to feel love.
These were startling revelations for each of us, and have really contributed to improving our marriage.
To help figure out your partner's love language, you can read the book, ask her about it, or watch for signs. Also, you can visit a website at selectsmart to take a quiz that will help you identify your own love language. This could be a great Valentine's Day or pre-Valentine's Day experience for your partner and you.