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It's Not the Gift

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that puts great emphasis on relationships.  Advertising spotlights the perfect card, the perfect floral arrangement, the perfect jewelry.  Many people concentrate on that, failing to realize that nothing is perfect.  The retailers are happy, because Valentine’s Day profits can be a bright spot in a dismal winter shopping season.  People who are expecting the “perfect” gift to make their relationship “perfect” are usually not so happy.  Instead of all the attention to the “perfect” gift, Valentine’s Day is a good chance to take a look at our relationships  to make them better.

At Valentine’s Day, the emphasis is on romantic relationships, but we each have all sorts of relationships in our daily lives……, friends, co-workers, etc.   Many of the same things that make a romantic relationship healthy will  work in our other relationships as well.    But, since it is Valentine’s Day, we will look at romantic relationships .

The most important thing we can do in any relationship is to take responsibility for ourselves, emotionally and otherwise.  We each have the ability to be happy; no other human being can do that for us.  A good relationship with another person can add to our happiness, but we cannot put the burden of “making us happy”  on anyone but ourselves.  So many times we let the moods and demeanor of other people affect the kind of day we are having.  Abraham Lincoln once said, “Each of us has the ability to be as happy as we make up our minds to be.”  Indeed, we not only have that ability, we have the responsibility to do that in our relationships.  This does not mean that we accept abusive behavior and make ourselves happy with that.  Abusive behavior immediately moves a relationship to an unhealthy state and triggers the need to take measures to keep yourself safe.

Acceptance is another important factor in healthy relationships.  None of us are perfect; we all have things we do that may be irritating to others.  If someone treats you well, but can’t seem to find the hamper for their dirty socks, that may be something that requires acceptance ………or negotiation.  Again, abusive acts are never to be accepted, or negotiated.

Communication is necessary for any relationship to work.  We must be able to communicate to people with whom we interact what we want, need and expect.  Too often we expect other people to read our minds, or to instinctively know what we need.  This does a huge disservice to both parties.  By the same token, we must be ready to listen as our partner communicates their needs.

In healthy relations, each partner wants the best for each other.  We are excited to celebrate the good things that happen, and are there for support when things don’t turn out so well.  Fun is an integral part of good relationships.  It is easy to get bogged down in the troubles of life.  We must set aside time to have fun together, even if it is just for a few minutes during each day.  It is important also to keep “the spark” alive, whether it be emotional, sexual, or intellectual.  Early in relationships, romance is very important.  As the years pass, it is important to keep that.  It is also vital to be able to talk with your partner about anything and everything.  It is in this way we continue to learn about each other and to be exposed to new ideas and to grow as people.

The “recipe” for a healthy relationship seems to mirror the Golden Rule that many of us learned in childhood.........paraphrased it says that we should treat others as we wish to be treated.    While there is no magic wands when we are dealing with people, that seems as if it is a pretty good way to start a good relationship with anyone, romantic or otherwise.  Never accept abusive treatment from anybody; never expect anybody to accept it from you.

Happy Valentine’s Day, and best wishes for a year filled with healthy and rewarding relationships in all phases of your life.

Susie Kensil, Shelby County Coordinator


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