Valentine’s Day is coming and I’ve been thinking about why I love you. It’s indescribable, but I’ll try. I love you mainly because you are you, because we “grew up” together, because you have stood by us through thick and thin and because you are such a wonderful father to our children. It’s so much more than discrete things, but here’s my short list:
- I love you because you come to a slumber party with me every night.
- I love you because you never want to let me down.
- I love you because you want me to have my dreams.
- I love you because you want to have your own dreams, and you demand my support.
- I love you for taking care of your body (and mine).
- I love you because even though I mess up and don’t always listen, you still want to tell me what’s on your mind and in your heart.
- I love you because of the home you essentially built with your own hands, for our family.
- I love you for loving and finding the best in my family.
- I love you for loving and finding the best in your family.
- I love you for standing up to me when I am being a brat or a chicken, and not letting me be a lower version of myself.
- I love you for feeling my pain and hating it.
- And for always wanting to stick up for me, even if sometimes you really shouldn’t.
- I love that I know you’d do anything to protect me and the kids.
- I love you for your patience, your genius and your great sense of humor.
- I love you for your generosity, which I now see can’t ONLY be directed at me.
- I love you for telling me no, when I need to be told no.
- I love you for saying yes to so many of my ideas, for being on the same mission and for making sure we stay connected.
I could go on and on, because I do love you, for all of these things and more. I’m so happy that we are together and can’t wait to celebrate Valentine’s Day with you.
What did you think when you were reading my letter? Did you compare your situation to mine? Did you feel hopeful or helpless? Did you wonder if your partner could EVER measure up to your expectations?
If I had read this a few years ago, it would have made me annoyed: first at the writer (jealous and skeptical), then at my husband (why wasn’t he as awesome as this guy?), then at myself (what’s wrong with me that I don’t have this going on?). Maybe I have stirred some of that up in you? Maybe right now you are wondering if you will ever be able to write a letter like that.
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When was the last time you wrote a love letter to your partner? Has it been awhile? Ask yourself why. Because you’re not “feelin’ it” so much anymore? That’s understandable over time and very common. Lots of baggage piles up between day to day spats and accumulated hurts. That’s not to mention deep philosophical disagreements, the role of cheating and your own (or your partner’s) negative family history that may be repeating.
It was easy and a pleasure to write this letter to my husband, today, but that’s because of years of work on the above list to make it so. It’s almost as predictable as the sunset, that any relationship after the “honeymoon” period will require a significant retooling. In fact the couples who end up making it over the long haul, have in common that they’ve all worked consciously on their relationships.
Here are my top instructions for regaining your love and intimacy.
1) Acknowledge the problem without accusing your partner. Let him/her know YOU are going to start dealing with it and by when you intend to be resolved and see a marked improvement. (This should be one to six months, depending how serious your issues are.)
2) Write up a “laundry list” of all your complaints about your relationship; this can include complaints about your partner and yourself. See that the list is finite, not infinite. Do not share your list with your partner unless you’re under the advice of a coach or counselor. (See #5)
3) Ask your partner to write his/her list.
4) Start doing one or two things you used to do when things were hot and happy. Do not wait to be in the mood. Examples: date night, foot rubs, sex, love letters, etc.
5) Find help. Of course we specialize in healing, improving and saving marriages, but there are other forms of help you can get which may be covered by your insurance! It is very hard to fix relationships on your own. It requires an incredible balance of understanding your own desires and feelings and seeking to understand your partner’s. And then there is negotiating plans for ongoing love growth (tee hee). Having a guide and moderator for these conversations can be very useful; in fact it may be the only thing that helps. You will leave with a healthier partnership and significant insights about yourself as well.
We think we love our partners, but we don’t drill down very often on what that means, how to receive it or express it. Love is a verb, not a noun. To make a partnership work for the long haul, you must make your love active. Unfortunately, very few of us have learned to consciously practice love, and now we need tutoring on the topic. Nothing to be ashamed of, just something to face. Maybe that can be your Valentine’s present to yourself (and your partner).
May this be your most vulnerable and connected Valentine’s Day, yet.
Love for you and yours,