“You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.” ~ Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper
Whenever you think of Valentine’s Day, you likely think about a fancy dinner and a bouquet of red roses. While that is one way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, there are so many others. A simple Google search for, “Unique ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day” will bring up a myriad of articles with fun (and even free!) ideas for you. I looked through several of these articles and saw suggestions like, “Have a bonfire!” or, “Go ice skating!” There are infinite ways to celebrate your relationship this Valentine’s Day, you really cannot go wrong! Because many may be single or may have recently lost a loved one this year, I encourage you to think about the holiday differently this year.
Make a paradigm shift away from roses and overpriced Italian food. If Valentine’s Day really is about spreading love, that applies to anyone you may feel love towards or appreciation for–a significant other, a parent, a child, a friend, a neighbor, etc. Instead of celebrating love or a romantic relationship, focus on celebrating someone important in your life. Treat it almost like his/her birthday. Consider–and then tell him/her!–what you admire, appreciate, and love about him/her. Think about his/her strengths, admirable qualities, and how he/she inspires you. Here are some prompts to get you going:
- Qualities you admire in him/her:
- Important lessons he/she has taught you:
- Favorite memory with him/her:
- Why or how you were initially drawn to him/her:
- A time he/she made you laugh memorably hard:
- His/her celebrity doppelganger:
- How he/she has helped you in your life:
- Where you would be without him/her:
- Something fun/exciting you will do in the future together (bucket list item?):
Those ten prompts are sure to give you ideas for how to celebrate that important person in your life. Doing this is step one.
Step two is then to tell him or her! This can be done in so many different ways; I recommend you try to deliver your compliments in a way that your partner is most likely to accept and appreciate. You can simply tell him/her face to face over dinner. You can write an epistle that can be read and reread. You can record a movie, write a poem, arrange a message in your letterboard, write it in chalk on their driveway, include it in a note with a simple gift…there is no right or wrong way. The key is to be direct and sincere in telling him/her what specifically you appreciate in him/her. Regardless of whether you are communicating your love and appreciation towards another adult or a child, everyone receives commendation well. This simple act can go such a long way! Children, especially, thrive on receiving positive affirmations and sincere praise.
Admiring strengths is one way that we can bring out the best in each other and grow together. When you are aware of someone else’s strengths, and communicate your appreciation, you help that person reach his/her full potential. Not only does research prove this, but I have seen it in countless clients! Seeing the good in others not only fosters feelings of love and appreciation, but it also begins a perpetuating cycle of looking for (and seeing!) the good in each other. And that is a wonderful place to be.
If you are feeling stressed by the thought of the impending Valentines Day, take heart. This is a free and easy but meaningful idea that you can implement this V-Day, 2019. Instead of celebrating love or a relationship in a cliché or expensive way, celebrate admirable qualities in someone important to you. This idea may be especially useful for anyone who has an important relationship that has undergone trauma, and who may be feeling unsure whether that bond is even worth celebrating. Regardless of your relationship status, we could all use a little more appreciation. This simple suggestion might be just what the (love) doctor ordered! Should you have questions or would like to schedule a session, please do not hesitate to contact me. My door is always open!
Wishing you and yours a lovely Valentine’s Day!
Melissa Cluff is a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Lewisville, Texas, personally seeing clients in the North Dallas area.
- Bustle: “10 Traits to Look for in a Long Term Partner”
- Cluff Counseling: “Bucket Lists: A Powerful Form of Self-Care”
- Cluff Counseling: “How to Give the Perfect Valentine’s Gift”
- Cluff Counseling: “Love Languages: The Gift of Words”
- Cluff Counseling: “Love Languages: Showing Love Through Gifts”
- Cluff Counseling: “Love Languages: Showing Love Through the Gift of Quality Time”
- Cluff Counseling: “Love Languages: Showing Love Through the Gift of Service”
- Gary Vaynerchuk: “4 WAYS TO FIND OUT WHAT YOUR STRENGTHS ARE”
- Greater Good Magazine: “Happy Couples Focus on Each Other’s Strengths”
- Marie Claire: “25 Unexpected Valentine’s Day 2019 Date Ideas”
- Psychology Today: “5 Essential Qualities for a Romantic Partner”
- Psychology Today: “How Do Character Strengths Help (and Harm) Romance?”