Image of a Valentine

Why love is important year-round

February is the one month out of the year when we tend to focus on love and loving as well as hearts, candy, and valentines.

Can you recall (with fond or not so fond memories) making Valentine bags out of paper bags in elementary school?  You were instructed to cut out red, white and pink hearts from construction paper and glue them onto paper bags. You wrote your name on it, then on Valentine’s day, it filled up with cards from every classmate.  It was a fun activity, made even more exciting by the small boxes of candy hearts or little chocolates you might receive.

Although I didn’t think much about it at the time, my mother always instructed me to include a Valentine for every single classmate, whether I liked that person or not.  It was an important lesson in inclusion, overlooking any inclinations toward judgment, criticism, or hurt feelings.

It’s not just for your significant other

While it seems that the celebration of Valentine’s Day is often commercialized and geared toward couples exclaiming their love for one another. It is also a day for remembering those who are special for the friendship, mentoring, coaching, teaching, and support they provide.

Writing a short note of gratitude, sending a card, or making a visit or phone can be a much-appreciated gesture of thanks, love, or support to those who have made a difference in your life.  So, Valentine’s Day is not just for couples in love. It’s for anyone and everyone who desires to express love or appreciation to those who are meaningful to us.

Before I was married, I often recall sending Valentine’s Day cards to family members and friends.  It seemed like a natural gesture of affection; I so much wanted to express, to the ones I felt closest to.  Since then, this tradition has not carried over as my focus shifted to my immediate family.

Yet, I often remind myself of the importance of small tokens or gestures of love, ones that often go unnoticed but may be deeply appreciated.

Let your love show

So, how can we show our love through gestures of love or affection besides sending that pricey Hallmark greeting?

Take a look at a famous book from several years ago titled, “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.  In this book, Chapman proposes five distinct ways we might express our love or affection for others.  It is a beneficial read if you want to strengthen the marital bond, a relationship with a child or emotional intimacy with a friend.

Chapman discusses these five love languages:  physical affection, verbal affirmation, gifts, quality time, and acts of service.  When we discover our primary or secondary love language, we can share this information with our spouse, friend, or loved one and encourage them to express their love for us in this way.

Sometimes, we may find ourselves expressing our love language toward our loved ones, instead of learning their distinct love language and practicing that language with them.

The key to success is practice, practice, practice – just like most anything else in life.  The more you practice, the better you become at expressing your loved ones’ own distinct love language toward them. It may be quite different from your own.

Your relationships will improve as you practice using love language with your spouse, children, or friends.  This practice is usually successful because we are focusing on displaying gestures that are meaningful and heartfelt.  This communication may (and often does) bring about significant changes in our relationships: increased emotional intimacy, improved communication, and improved conflict resolution skills.

Well put words on the subject of love

Finally, here are a few inspirational quotes on love:

  • “The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” Audrey Hepburn
  • “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
  • “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.” H. Jackson Brown Jr.
  • “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” Mother Teresa
  • “We are like islands in the sea.  Separate on the surface, but connected in the deep”. William James
  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.  Hate can not drive out hate:  only love can do that” Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “And think not you can direct the course of love, for love if it finds you worthy, directs your course.” The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
  • “And now these three remain, faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” The Bible
  • “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Victor Hugo
  • “Love is friendship set on fire.” Jeremy Taylor
  • “All you need is love.” The Beetles

Thank you for following my blog. I wish you much love and peace on this Valentine’s Day.

Linda Mesing Cook, LMHC

P.S.  Happy Birthday Dad.

Image courtesy of LadyDragonflyCC – >;< via creative commons license.