Valentine’s Day may well have started as the Roman version of “match.com.” Young single men and women placed their names in a box, names were drawn randomly and couples were put together as partners for a year. After that it was up to them.
Robert Browning pointed to the essence of the foundation of Valentine’s Day when he said, “Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.” And as my teacher and mentor, Albert Ellis, Ph.D. liked to say, “The art of love is largely the art of persistence.”
For millennials, relationships appear to be taking on a new lustre. In a recent survey of 1,000 people, the researchers found that about 53% of millennials believed “till death do us part” no longer applies. Instead, “beta marriage” should the new normal many millennials believe. Despite being the “hook up generation,” cautious with commitment, wanting to postpone relationships until they’ve achieved a more stable career, being concerned with looking too clingy, being unwilling to “settle for less,” or just liking the “let’s test this marriage”model, still 69% of millennials want get married, but also want the option of rethinking the rules.
Despite these stumbling blocks, there are ways to turn them into stepping stones for a long-term, healthy and rewarding relationship. Use these tips, persistently, with your hearts and minds anchored in forever, and you’ll be celebrating many, many Valentine’s Days together…in genuine love.
- Offer large doses of respecting him and cherishing her (yes, of course it’s important the other way around as well). Express fondness and admiration daily.
- Become genuinely BFFs by demonstrating that what’s important to your friend’s happiness is essential to you, and delivering your best self to each other. Turn towards each other, not away from each other.
- Avoid the endless cycle of arguments. Be each other’s “defense attorney,” not “prosecutor.” Listen carefully to each other to create “win-win” solutions by putting conflict in front of both of you, not between you. Don’t compromise! Instead, find a third solution that isn’t his or hers, but a consensus you both agree on and enjoy. Make excuses for each other.
- You aren’t likely to be a star in more than one arena of your life—make it your relationship by clearly putting each other before anything else, including work, children, hobbies, parents and friends.
- Be sure you indulge and nourish each other with everything you are in the language the other desires and understands—and do it daily.
- Ultimately it’s all about KINDNESS. Deliver it daily at a ratio of 5 positive interactions to every negative interaction and you’ll be celebrating your love for decades to come.
- It’s not just what you say to each other, it’s how you say it that matters. But however you say it, avoid saying things like:
“What the heck is wrong with you?”
“Never mind! I’ll do it myself…I don’t need you to help me.”
“Why can’t you ever________?” “Why do you always________?”
“Why can’t you be more like______?”
“Whatevvvver” (instead of actually engaging in conversation)
- Keep your promises…to do your best to surprise each other, to smile often, to look at each other tenderly, to ignite sparks in each other’s eyes, to inspire and motivate each other for good and health, to never let the excitement fade, and to hold each other’s hands with the same anticipation, pleasure and enthusiasm when you reach 75, that you did the very first time you ever touched each other.