The Gift of Connection
You just realized that what you thought would be the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day cannot be shipped in time by Amazon Prime.
The clock is ticking. You know your partner got you something. Every minute is counting down to Valentine’s Day and you have nothing!
What will you do?!
There is still hope! Let me give you some ideas for a gift by helping you first take a look at the bigger picture of what you are hoping to achieve through your gift this Valentine’s Day.
Think about your love story. When I say that, I mean think about what makes you as a couple special. Let’s look at an example. Almost everyone has seen The Notebook. An aging man comes in to visit his wife with Alzheimers in an assisted living home, and he tells their love story to her. Many of us pass that off as unrealistic—that relationships are not that strong—at least not these days.
How about I share a real love story? My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease more than 10 years ago. From the start, at age 85, my grandfather refused to put her in an assisted living home and chose instead to became her primary caretaker. It was a lonely time for him, and as her disease progressed, things became increasingly difficult. She could no longer remember her children, she would get angry, forget where she put things, was confined to a wheelchair, and still—he cared for her in his old age. I once asked him how he was doing, and if it was too hard for him. He replied, with tears in his eyes, “It is not hard for me. It is hard for her! She cannot remember anything and it scares her.” He remained caring for her, with the help of family, in their home until her final moments this past summer. At age 96, my grandfather had cared for her for more than 10 years, constantly putting her needs before his. What I have learned from my grandparents’ relationship is what love really means.
What is love?
Being in love means to feel so safe and secure with your romantic partner that you begin to transform into your best self, and in return, you desire the same for your partner. You are willing to sacrifice for that most important relationship and focus on the needs of the other.
Another way of thinking about love what said best by Ann Landers. She wrote, “love is a friendship that has caught fire.” A solid foundation of friendship and emotional closeness is the fuel for that fire.
Now let’s reflect on your relationship. Answer the following questions:
1) What makes your partner special to you?
2) How has this person helped you change?
3) What storms of life have you weathered together?
4) What was the beginning of your story?
5) Where do you hope your love story will take you?
As you consider these questions, you might feel your love and appreciation for your partner grow.
Why is that?
Here is the secret.
As you think about and reflect on the relationship positively, your connection deepens. You feel that emotional connection. You can feel and remember what it does for you in your life—the strength it gives you to face daily challenges head on.
So take that emotional connection, and use it to fuel inspiration for how to make Valentine’s Day about connecting as a couple instead of about chocolates and roses. Use this special day to really celebrate your partner and all that their relationship means to you. You might leave those yoga pants or grill sets in your Amazon cart for now. At least until their birthday.
Here are some ideas of activities to celebrate the connection with your Valentine:
-Re-create an important moment
-Re-create your first date with a special in home surprise dinner. (If you have kids, find a sitter to watch the kids at their home during your dinner.) Transform your bedroom by decorating it in a style that is important to you both, or to your partner. For example, if you proposed on a ski trip, decorate your bedroom to look like a lodge with a fake fire and fake snow with food that you ate that night.
-Choose Your Own Adventure Date:
Create several date night boxes that your spouse can choose to do once a month. Pick things that they like to do. It can be especially fun if you offer to do something you hate to do but your partner loves. For example, do they love going to the movies but you don’t? Create a movie date night box with movie tickets or a gift card to fandango, with a promise included not to complain and only to talk positively about the movie and the experience of being with your hot date.
Take a jar and fill it with thirty slips of paper. On each slip of paper write one thing that you love about that person. Tell them you have made them a once a day “I love you jar” that they can look at every day for the next month. Or if you are feeling ambitious, use 60 slips of paper or even 90. Combine this with his or her favorite treat, item, or flowers.
-Create a scrapbook of your partner’s accomplishments. Include pictures from your favorite moments of their life with you, things that you have kept from moments with them, and includes notes about how you felt when they got that promotion or read those books to your children after their hard day at work. Take some time to really celebrate them and what you love about them.
The more effort and thought you put into considering what would be meaningful to your partner, the stronger the emotional connection will be felt between you both.
The more emotional connections you make, the stronger your love story will be.
And that is the story that counts.
Happy Valentine’s Day!