Happy Valentine’s Day! As the saying goes, love makes the world go around. It can enrich your life in ways you never dreamed possible and plummet you to the depths of misery. That’s the fascinating paradox of love. Finding the balance between those two is often learned through trial and error, and some of the lessons are more painful than others. I sometimes wish I’d had an honest conversation about love with my mother but even if I had, I suspect I still would have had to chart my own path through love’s murky waters. Because this day celebrates love in all its varied forms, I’d like to share what I’ve learned along the way.
1. Repeat as necessary: Love is not about control.
2. Love doesn’t hurt. If it does, take a couple of steps back and re-evaluate.
3. Love and sex aren’t the same thing. Take a minute to let that one sink in. If all you have going for you is great sex, you won’t last.
4. Don’t keep score. Love doesn’t keep a mental accounting of which partner has done more than the other, gives more than the other, etc. Wise people know that this varies, that the balance continually shifts.
5. If you don’t love yourself it’s impossible to love others. You read that right–I used the ‘i’ word. Love yourself first, and let it all ripple out from there.
6. You are not responsible for your partner’s happiness.
7. Actions speak louder than words. Anyone cay say ‘I love you;’ living your love, every day, is much more difficult.
8. Love doesn’t thrive in a vacuum; if you’re not putting anything into your relationship, don’t be surprised when it fails. Having said that, though, it’s also true that one person can’t hold a relationship together. It takes two.
9. Act like a grown-up. There’s no place for immaturity in a lasting love.
10. Respect your partner.
11. Maintain a healthy perspective. Everything is not about you! Give your partner the gift of ‘alone’ time when he or she needs it.
12. Good communication is essential–don’t expect your partner to read your mind. Talk to each other openly and honestly, and talk often.
13. Leave your family and friends out of your arguments. However tempting it might be, don’t tell a third party anything you wouldn’t say to your partner, face to face.
14. Practice the art of listening.
Above all, don’t wait for a special occasion to tell the people who matter most how you feel. No one is guaranteed tomorrow; say it today. Laugh together often, and enjoy each other’s company.
On this Valentine’s Day, I wish you love–deep, lasting, fulfilling. May your blessings be abundant, and may your heart runneth over!