Today is valentine’s day. Some call it a hallmark holiday and in many ways I do suppose it is. Much like Christmas,Easter and several other holidays the true meaning makes way for commercial interests. Just like the aforementioned holidays, we do not have to fall victim to this mentality and can focus on the meaning behind the day.
In the case of today it is love. The cynical may say it is foolish and you should love everyday. This is one time I may be inclined to partially agree with the cynic. While it is true you should celebrate love each and every day (and I am sure that those of you that know my lady Margie and I realize we do) but having a day specifically set aside to remind us of the important role love plays in all of our lives can be very healthy.
Above is a picture of the couple my lady and I are going to spend the evening with, our friends Heidi and Bret. This couple, like all couples, have had their share of challenges. Still here they are back, and dare I say, better than they were a year ago.
What is their secret to love? Well as we all know love is a very complex subject that has filled countless books and inspired even more movies and songs. To say there is one key to love would be selling ourselves short.
However, because this is a blog and we should be brief i am going to share a secret Heidi and Bret, Margie and myself and countless other couples use to grow their love. Not in a relationship? That’s fine this one thing can unlock the secrets to capturing the heart of anyone you are interested in.
These are all big claims but can all be achieved by doing one simple thing – listening. Before you dismiss this idea let’s take a look. The kind of listening I am talking about involves listening to learn.
Let’s take a look at disagreements. When passions run high we can all too often listen just to contradict what our partner is saying. Come on, we have all done it. I know I have. Have you ever found yourself in this situation, you are arguing so intensely and for so long you actually forget what the argument is about? Even worse have you been in a disagreement only to discover you and the other party were totally disagreeing about two different things? These are all things that can happen when we don’t listen to understand what is upsetting our partner.
When we actively listen which includes asking questions such as “what is truly upsetting you?” And “what can I do to make it better?” can shorten the duration and lessen the intensity of any disagreement. It will also show your partner you can and want to find a solution and not just who is to blame.
Let’s not be all doom and gloom here. Listening has a very fun and exciting side. Don’t you wish you could always give the one you love the perfect gift or situation to light up their heart regardless of the funds you have available? Listening to the rescue! When I shop with Margie I listen closely (ok most of the time). This has allowed me to learn what her favorite flowers are, what meat she likes the best, her taste in fashion. Even the conversations we have while doing the simplest things have given me clues as to what she likes and also what she dislikes. By paying attention and taking mental notes it has kept me in the first category.
So this valentine’s day give your spouse the gift of truly listening to them. It can not only be a great gift for them (who doesn’t enjoy really being heard and feeling important) and you (they will tell you lots of secrets if you pay attention) but also a great gift for your relationship (it will give you opportunities to grow love and limit upsets).
*the author would also like to note listening will work in any relationship, friend coworker and clients.