Make Valentine’s Day Count
Photo by Edward Howell on Unsplash
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We know what’s expected on Valentine’s Day: romantic gifts (flowers, chocolate) and an exchange of cards expressing love for each other. Perhaps there is a candle-lit dinner for two.
The problem is the customary Valentine’s Day activities ignore the real issues many relationships face.
It obscures real issues
Many relationships are deeply troubled. Treating your spouse or partner in an especially solicitous way one day of the year isn’t going to resolve these problems. To the contrary, it may cause you to ignore significant issues.
As I discuss in my new book, Ask: How to Relate to Anyone, there’s a serious dissonance between the idealized view of marriage reinforced by celebrating Valentine’s Day and the stark reality confronting many relationships.
Dana Adam Shapiro, the author of You Can Be Right (or You Can Be Married): Looking for Love in the Age of Divorce, estimates only 17% of couples are happy.
Vicki Larson, co-author of The New I do, Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels, believes statistics paint an even more dismal picture. She estimates 40% of couples are so unhappy they’re thinking about ending their relationship.
The divorce rate in the U.S. validates this troubled status. A young couple marrying for the first time today has a lifetime divorce risk of 40%.
If you’re committed to having a good relationship, being sensitive and thoughtful one day a year won’t cut it.
A change in focus
Whether the issue is chores or money, couples often find themselves locked in intractable positions, causing them to repeat the same arguments, ripping at the fabric of their relationships with no resolution in sight.
These couples validate the truism that, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
There’s a way to break this logjam. It’s disarmingly simple. Stop asserting your position and start asking questions.
The most common source of relationship discord is money. Approximately 70% of married couples argue about it. These conflicts involve spending, saving, deceit, and exclusion from financial decisions.
A Valentine’s Day card expressing your love is nice, but it won’t get to the core of this issue. You’ll likely pick up the conflict exactly where you left off a day or so after this “special day.”
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The right questions are key
If you’re in a relationship where conflicts about money abound, change your strategy. Here are examples of questions you could ask that could turn a disagreement into a relationship- enhancing and problem-solving experience.
- I understand we spend too much money and aren’t saving enough, so what steps do you think we can take to resolve this issue?
- What if we came up with a goal of saving a certain percentage of our income every month and made it a point to hold each other accountable?
- Should either or both of us look for a better paying job?
- Should we retain a financial planner to help us?
- Are there expenses where we can cut back?
- Are there any apps that would help us track our expenses?
- Can we agree that our relationship is much, much more important than this or any other issue?
Why it matters
If you don’t have a happy relationship, not only will you struggle with your personal life, but you will be less successful in your professional one. Why consign yourself to a life locked into conflict and stress?
Treat your loved one with dignity and respect every day of the year and Valentine’s Day will become a small reflection of a rewarding relationship.