I like to think of Valentine’s Day not just as a day of romance, but also as a day of care. After all, relationships don’t thrive on romance alone. They require attention and maintenance.
February 14 is a day to feed and nurture your marriage, and also a time to think and talk with your partner about how to make it stronger and better. Spouses who don’t grow together will naturally drift apart.
Here are three recent studies that you and your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend would do well to read together and discuss this Valentines Day.
Rogge, Cobb and Lawrence, 2013 found that couples who regularly watched movies about relationships together and then discussed them afterward had half the divorce rate of couples who did not.
The study’s authors surmised that couples often have a reasonable idea about what they’re doing right and wrong in their relationship. So simply getting them to discuss and communicate about couples issues on a fairly regular basis may be all it takes to keep many relationships healthy.
The Takeaway: Throughout the year, make a point to sit and watch some relationship-based movies together, followed by discussion. Research shows it’s worthwhile maintenance.
What will your partner appreciate the most in your relationship? More money to spend? A bigger house? Frequent bouquets of flowers?
A survey in the UK asked 4,000 people what they appreciated the most from their spouses. They found that it was, surprisingly, simple acts of kindness.
The Takeaway: Sure, get your spouse a box of chocolates or some flowers for Valentines Day. But don’t forget what’s more important on a day-to-day basis all year round: A compliment, a thoughtful hand in the kitchen or yard, a simple question, “How are you doing today?” followed by truly listening. Those are the ways to keep your love alive.
Finkel, Hui, Carswell & Larson (2014) studied how marriage has changed over the years, and found that it has indeed become significantly different.
In the past, people married mostly for safety and security. In today’s world, we expect it to provide much more. People now want emotional fulfillment and self-actualization from their marriages.
However, the authors of this study found a gap between people’s expectations and the amount of time and effort they put into their marriages to reap those rewards. Consequently many find themselves disappointed.
The Takeaway: Don’t lower your expectations for you marriage. Instead decide, along with your partner, to put the time and energy into it. Challenge each other to grow, and you will reap the rewards.
Together, vow that from today until February 14, 2017 you will:
Be open to talk about relationship issues.
Show your loved one an act of kindness every day.
Put time and energy into your relationship.
No matter how long you’ve been together, remember that in any relationship, you will get out of it a combination of two things: 1) what you’re willing to ask for and 2) what you’re willing to put in.