Is There Love After Valentine’s Day?
Dr. Rick’s February Newsletter
“If we think of love as a verb, a way of being as opposed to a state of being, we can recognize that we hold a lot of power when it comes to our relationships happiness.”-Dr. Rick Petronella
If you are disappointed about how Valentine’s Day went, you are not alone.
Statistics abound showing that people feel particularly frustrated and let down on February 14th because of unmet expectations. Singles often look for a commitment or a ring if they’ve been in a relationship for a while. Married couples look for emotional connection at a deeper level or expressions of love that will meet their preconceived romantic notions.
Many studies confirm that what the couple’s happiness is their emotional connection. Affection and empathy are the most important factors in predicting a couple’s happiness.
The study also found that emotional focus needs to be the paramount concern for the relationship.
That said, fulfilling a woman’s idea of romance and expectations of emotional intimacy is not something most men, in particular, are natural at. In fact, many men struggle with how to convey their feelings in a way that their wives or girlfriends will understand and appreciate. But what if we were to focus, not on our disappointment from a lack of intimacy, but what attracted us to one another?
Psychologist Erich Fromm wrote:
“There is only one proof for the presence of love: the depth of the relationship, and the aliveness and strength in each person concerned; this is the fruit by which love is recognized.”
True love exists when both partners feel nurtured by the other and thrive as a result. If both individuals aren’t thriving, is it really love?
Fromm said of love, “It isn’t a feeling, it is a practice.” As much as that initial spark, desire, or longing may feel like it, these feelings are not necessarily love. Love involves behavior. It is a skill.
Therefore to truly love, we have to make actual steps toward our partner that he or she experiences as loving. Real love comes from attunement, sensitivity, and generosity. It comes from supporting the other person and whatever is important to them. When we choose each day to treat that person with gentleness, affection, kindness, and respect, we cultivate and grow our ability to love.
If we think of love as a verb, a way of being as opposed to a state of being, we can recognize that we hold a lot of power when it comes to our relationships happiness. We can learn to be more loving and actually get better at love. Studies show that real love can last a lifetime, but that depends largely on us, and how we conduct ourselves in our relationships.
I like the words of St. Paul in I Corinthians 13:4-8:
Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy or boast, is not proud. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always persevere, Love never fails.
Let’s give it a try. We will not be disappointed.
Quiz: How Well Are You Nurturing Your Romance?
A romantic relationship is like a garden requires regular watering, nutrients and sunshine to keep it alive and healthy.
You wouldn’t expect your garden to grow and thrive without taking the proper steps to nurture it. The same is true of your relationship. Without ongoing care and attention to your romance, your relationship will ultimately wither on the vine.
I encourage you to take the following quiz to find out how well you are nurturing your romance. It contains 10 excellent ways to help love relationships to grow and thrive. Grade yourself on each of the following statements according to how frequently it pertains to you and your relationship. You can then interpret your results at the end of the questions.
1-Very frequently 10 points
2-Often 8 points
3-Occasionally 4 points
4-Rarely or never 0 points
1. You hug, cuddle and say “I love you” to your spouse or lover.
2. You compliment your loved one with true and honest statements.
3. You surprise your partner with romantic gestures, such as unexpected cooked meals, special notes, trips or date nights.
4. You enjoy sexual intimacy with your partner: You’re as much a willing giver as you are an appreciative receiver.
5. You make your romantic relationship a major priority in your life, as opposed to other distractions such as TV, sports, chores or other obligations.
6. You understand and acknowledge your lover’s needs and wants, and show interest in his or her feelings and desires.
7. You are generally willing to give more than you receive—and you don’t keep score.
8. You treat your partner with respect, even during disagreements.
9. Along with being intimate partners, you and your loved one are good friends, companions, co-creators, fun pals and spiritual equals.
10. You communicate openly and honestly with your loved one.
Now, add up your total points to find out how nurturing you are of your romantic relationship.
80 to 100 points: Congratulations! You understand that love is about creating an equal and balanced happy relationship with your partner, one in which both of you learn and grow together.
60 to 79 points: Although you might have a few weeds in your garden of love, you are doing an adequate job of nurturing your relationship. But you could use some pointers, such as that in order to have a wonderful partner, you have to be one.
0 to 59 points: You may want to re-evaluate your relationship to determine if it’s really the right one for you. Unless you make some changes, your relationship may be in danger of drying up. Please don’t hesitate to call if you would like to explore how to reinvigorate your relationship.