Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nineteen Tips: A Valentine's Day Tribute

Happy Valentine's Day! Have you had enough yet of pink and red, chocolate, flowers, sickening pretension, socially imposed guilt, and relationship angst? Of course not. It's early in the day.

I actually enjoy this holiday, mostly because I'm desperately addicted to those weird candy hearts. I also feel like a holiday devoted entirely to love gives us all a great opportunity to think about, well, love. 

But while the gooey, sticky, heart-and-flowers kind of love gets the spotlight on this day, I think Valentine's Day offers a prime opportunity to learn a little bit about real love (you know, the married, committed, sacrificial, I Corinthians 13, day-in-day-out, Hollywood-forgot-about-this-part kind).

I thoroughly enjoy cornering my married friends and gleaning advice on relationships from them. I used this post as an excuse to fully abuse this privilege. I asked over a dozen married friends and family members to offer insight and advice for real relationships. Below are their responses. 

Some of the responses are from women and some are from men. Some of these people have only been married for a number of months. Some of been married for decades. All of them were generous enough to share some of their wisdom and experience with me and with you.

  1. Be willing to be vulnerable. Love the whole person, not just the good things. Express your love and appreciation daily.
  2. Just say it, even when you can't think of how to phrase it. It's better to talk about it than stew over it.
  3. If you have something that needs to be talked about, do it in the morning when you are both fresh from the nights rest. And take the time to pray together every day.
  4. Laugh a lot . . . at yourself and together.
  5. Never go to bed angry. You may not completely resolve the issue, but discuss it enough so that neither of you is angry anymore.
  6. Stay steady through the ups and downs, always sharing thoughts and feelings. Be perceptive to the others person's needs, because they are most often different from yours.
  7. Buy flowers at the right time. Don't just listen; give feedback, too. 
  8. Don't use "talk it out" as an excuse to air grievances that could easily have been forgiven
  9. "Constructive criticism" is not your job.
  10. Respect, civility, kindness, consideration - all will carry you much further than being in love. 
  11. Don't argue about the small stuff . . . and 99% of it is small stuff.
  12. As Ellen Goodman said, "We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck.  But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness.  The understanding that although you’re no bargain, you love and you are loved. Anyway."
  13. Choose to think the best of your spouse in any given situation. You get to choose!
  14. "Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?"
  15. Pick the right girl and you're all set. Be a good companion to yourself, and you'll be a good companion for someone else. In short, be content, and do something in your spare time that not only is enjoyable, but worth doing.
  16. Live with gratitude. Your partner will not be perfect, and you aren't either. Thank your spouse profusely for any special attentions he/she offers you, and don't allow yourself to dwell on your spouse's faults.
  17. Learn laundry language.
  18. Marriage is one of God's greatest gifts to his children, a rich blessing.  It is also the meeting of two minds, personalities, and hearts . . . beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. It is somewhat akin to nuclear fusion.
  19. The best advice comes straight from Dusty Springfield:   

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