“The task is not to seek love but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you built against it” – Rumi
As we approach Valentine’s Day, I can’t help but to think about love. While there are many aspects of love, for the purposes of this blog post, I will be focusing on the love that exists between you and your partner – and some of the ways you might express that love.
What does the expression of love look like in relationship, and what reduces or destroys that love?
1. When we express kindness and gratitude, we are expressing love. Gratitude is usually expressed as an appreciation. As such, in the work I do with couples, we always begin a session with an appreciation dialogue. For those of you who would like to try it out, please refer to my blog on appreciations.
2. Another way we express love is through acts of loving kindness. In my couples therapy work, we are taught to express kindness through caring behaviors. Acts of kindness express, “I care about you.” What are caring behaviors, and how can we express and show our appreciation for each other? Caring behaviors are unconditional gifts we give graciously without an expectation of anything in return. It is something you do for your partner for no other reason than it pleases them or makes her/him feel loved and cared about.
3. Every relationship involves a “gift” exchange. In my opinion, the greatest gift that we can give each other comes in the form of simply listening. But not just listening with our ears but actually listening with our hearts. This type of conscious listening involves learning a technique called Intentional Dialogue, which includes mirroring, summarizing, validating and empathizing.
4. One thing that destroys love is negativity. All of us have witnessed the events of anger. Negativity in any transaction ruptures the connection: whether it’s intentional or accidental. One thing that makes a relationship successful is the ratio of positive behaviors to negative ones. This ratio needs to be at least six positives to every one negative. As we learn about cherishing each other, we simultaneously move to end all negativity in the relationship. In fact, zero negativity is a precondition for safety in a relationship. Seven Habits to a Healthy Relationship will help you begin to understand what you do to rupture your connection, how to repair the connection once it’s been ruptured.
5. Finally but not lastly, our love can be manifested in dreaming together. Dream about your perfect relationship. What does it look like? What do you want as a couple? If you can dream it, you can be it. “Be the dream” has always been my motto. Focusing on creating a relationship vision – one that will guide you throughout your entire relationship.
Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to think about celebrating your love for each other.