Valentine’s Day is not far away—February 14th. Start today with your gift giving and carry it on right up to and including Valentine’s Day. It’s going to be so rewarding you won’t want to stop there; you’ll just keep going. And your marriage will take on a new higher level of loving. You may be thinking, “I’m not made of money! There’s no way I can give a gift every day.” Oh, yes you can and here’s how you do it, and it applies to both husband and wife, whoever happens to be reading this article. We’ll use the female pronouns to simplify the writing, but remember, it’s for both husbands and wives. Try these three simple steps and then the finale, and just watch the sparks ignite.
Step 1: To set the stage, picture your spouse’s face while saying this phrase in your mind: “(say her name) is of worth, her feelings matter, and I really do care about her.” Repeat it a couple of times so the idea is fixed in your mind. Sometimes a spouse can feel like she is of no worth, that her feelings don’t matter to you, and you don’t really care about her. Even if it’s not true, she may feel like it is. This is your chance to change that. And it doesn’t happen by saying, “Hey, you are too of worth. And I care about you, for crying out loud. Haven’t I kept a roof over your head for X number of years?!” Whatever you do, don’t say anything like that. It only proves the point that you really don’t get it when it comes to love.
Step 2: Focus on the statement that her feelings do matter, then when she starts to tell you something today, stop what you are doing, look at her, and really listen to what she is saying. Don’t allow little self-focused defensive thoughts to creep into your mind. For example, if she’s saying, “I am so tired. I could use some help right now.” In the past you may have said something like, “You don’t know what tired is! I have really had a hard day.” Don’t say it!
Instead, remember that her feelings matter and say something like, “I’ll bet you are tired, sweetheart. Thanks for all you do. What would you like me to do to help you?” Now that’s love! Watch what happens to the expression on her face. It can’t help but bring a light of happiness into her life and your home.
Remember, wives, it goes both ways. Do the same for him when he says something similar. Whoever does it will notice that the other will soften and eventually want to return that same kind of caring. That’s when your spouse knows she/he really is of worth and you care deeply about her/him.
Step 3: When you’re lying there in bed (or wherever you may be) and your spouse is pouring her heart out to you, LISTEN without feeling like you have to tell her what to do about her problem. You may have a great answer right on the tip of your tongue. Bite your tongue and keep it to yourself. Validate her feelings. [Remember VALIDATION means walking beside another person emotionally without trying to change his or her direction.] You don’t need to solve anything, or try to talk her out of anything, or even try to cheer her up. Just listen with interest by using validating phrases such as, “I’ll bet that was hard” or “Wow, I don’t blame you for feeling that way.”
If you are giving her your full attention and trying to see things from her perspective you can make these statements with honesty and understanding. When your spouse has a chance to fully express what she’s going through, it’s amazing how quickly it will help her feel better just by having the chance to share it with the one person who really cares . . . YOU. If you stop the process with “Just get over it,” or “Crying won’t do any good,” her problems will only intensify. Get out of her way with your fix-it phrases and let her go for it. That’s what will cheer her up and actually allow her to see her own good solutions. When you validate her feelings she gets over it faster and it puts her in the mood for a good snuggle. Caring feels so good.
These steps are simple, and yet so powerful in their ability to create a mutually loving relationship with your spouse. Keep repeating the phrase MY SPOUSE IS OF WORTH, HER FEELINGS MATTER, AND I REALLY DO CARE ABOUT HER It will have a positive effect on all you do regarding her. It will rekindle loving feelings of romance and tenderness in both of you.
Now for the Valentine’s Day finale: Give your spouse an actual tangible hands-on gift. When it comes to gifts, a few husbands give nothing to their wives because they can’t afford something big. That’s mostly just an excuse for not wanting to put forth a little effort to find a gift. It doesn’t take much. In fact, sometimes the small gifts are the most memorable. Cards make wonderful gifts. One favorite flower with a sprig of greenery is very romantic, especially when it comes with a love note in your hand writing. A set of inexpensive earrings with a message that says “You’re worth real diamonds and one day I hope I can make that happen. I love you.” A note taped to the bathroom mirror that says, “How about a dinner date for Valentine’s?”
Or to you wives, how about cooking a special heart-shaped pancakes breakfast for him, or giving him a new tool he’s talked about with a note that says “I love my handyman!” Or a love note with a promise of something he enjoys tucked into his pocket. Men enjoy fun greeting cards too, so you might find one that will put a smile on his face. Both of you need to use your imagination and have some fun with it. Valentine’s Day can be exciting and provides a great opportunity to put some pizzazz into your love life. As President Hinckley said, “If there is an anxious looking after the happiness of one’s companion then love will flourish and blossom.” (Ensign, Nov. 1997, p. 69)
Last and best of all the game, give each other a heartfelt hug and a kiss that lasts longer than a peck. Then say the words “I love you.”
[Based on concepts from the book I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better: Six Practical Principles that Empower Others to Solve Their Own Problems While Enriching Your Relationships, Chapter 10, "How Validation Works With a Spouse." Penguin Books]