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Gerald Young, Ph.D.
Gerald Young Ph.D.

Making St. Valentine’s Day Last

Your 10 Paths to True Partnership

St. Valentine's day is a day of renewal for couples. For singles, it's a day of motivation to find the right partner. Either way, we need to reflect on the nature of love in the larger sense of the word, as well as the specifics of how to find and keep love. Here is a list of ten Do's and Don'ts that will help you and your partner say "I do" throughout your relationship.

1. Work at Love. You always hear that you should balance work and love, but have you ever considered that love takes work and that you should dedicate yourself to love as much as you dedicate yourself to work? If you are in a relationship, do you give it the same importance as you do in your career?

2. Love Is Its Own Reward, So Keep Rewarding It. Love starts with physical attraction and emotional arousal, but moves to an atmosphere of security and commitment. Once established psychological growth ensues both in each partner and the couple as a whole. Love fosters and brings maturity, the best present of all. For a relationship to grow through these phases and stay at its peak, it needs both partners to focus on the other as much as the self. Stoking love leads to strokes of love.

3. Tying the "Not" Ties the Knot. Keeping a partner happy is not just about doing the right thing, giving the right present, or tying the right knot. It also involves growing the right way, going beyond material things, trying your best, and stopping yourself from doing the wrong thing (such as the temptation to cheat).

4. Be Faithful (From Bed to Head). You need to be faithful to your partner in every way, not just sexually. When you foster an atmosphere of trust in the relationship, it frees you from the wear and tear of jealousy and mistrust. Often, we naively believe, or just hope, that unity and sharing exist in our relationship. Yet, how can you achieve true unity and sharing in your relationship? You can create a trusting environment when you are faithful to your best ideals and life path. Your partner needs to do the same, though you might need to help the person to grow in the right direction. Keeping each other happy sexually is an important start, but trust grows when we keep each other happy psychologically.

5. Communicate (From Lips, No Lies). The key to communication is to be honest, to be open, to trust the other person, and to trust yourself. When words come from the heart and mind, communication is more genuine, and more likely to bring out the best in each person. Words are powerful tools that build relationships. When words reflect what is going on honestly, you will reach your partner. When words mask lies, they hurt the other, and also the self-- even if the lies are not discovered. Moreover, the actions and feelings that accompany words are important bricks in relationship building. A look of longing could be worth a thousand words.

6. Find the Right Psychological Position. Relaxing the tension increases the attraction. By pulling out from a down or angry mood, you help pull the other toward you. Helping the other out of an angry or down mood helps you cements the relationship. Offering support is more important than offering gifts. Always wanting your way leads to being sent on your way. When you stand up each day to what a relationship demands, it helps make the nights last.

7. Men and Women are From Different Planets, But End Up Here on Earth. Although there are important differences between men and women, both sexes seek personal happiness, the right job, and success in love. Both seek the right path and psychological maturity. When they cannot attain these goals, there might be good reasons that lie in their background, in their present situation, or in themselves. On the average, women might be more emotionally expressive and men more task-oriented or instrumental. However, you never enter a relationship with an average, but with a real person. No matter what your gender, it is up to you to find out what makes your partner unique. When each partner values the uniqueness of the other person in the relationship, the relationship gains value.

8. Be Good to Yourself and to Your Partner. Love is not just about sacrificing for the other. Take care of yourself physically and psychologically. Control what you can in your environment. Most important, control bad habits that you know are destructive and get in the way of your relationship. A good time to start controlling bad habits is now, and a good time to help your partner do the same is a second from now.

9. Develop a Common Language. Communication is multi-faceted and you need to use all the channels in good ways. Talk verbally and non-verbally. Say upfront what you want to say. Behind anything you say, realize that there are many things attached that are not said out loud. Understand that males and females might put different things upfront. Think ahead to what the other person might think. Tell "big truths" and "little lies." Often, guys want sex first, but women want it to last. Work out the difference to the satisfaction of each of you. Well bedded is well wedded.

10. Going on Dates Should Have No End Date. Therapeutically, aside from dealing with their issues, couples should be encouraged to return to some of the good habits and feelings that they experienced in the beginning of the relationship. You should go out on dates regularly. St. Valentine's day happens once per year, but in one way or another its spirit should animate your relationship every day.

About the Author
Gerald Young, Ph.D.

Gerald Young, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at York University.

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