Tag Archive for Valentine’s

I Love Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day but…not everyone is happy about that. In fact, I’ve heard some countries actually ban Valentine’s Day. But wouldn’t it be nice to add a little more love into our families and our communities? After all, “love cures people—both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it” (Dr. Karl Menninger). Our families and communities are definitely in need of healing.

Valentine’s Day is a day to remind ourselves that love is a great gift to give our spouse, our children, our parents…and our friends and neighbors. As Victor Hugo said, “the greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” And the knowledge that somebody loves us allows us to know our true selves and our true beauty. “It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being” (John Joseph Powell). In other words, the gift of love allows us to become the best version of ourselves…even if we start off a bit like a beast. That is “the great lesson of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ that a thing must be loved before it is lovable” (G. K. Chesterton). Love your family.

Some fear love. Maybe they’ve been hurt, or they fear losing their sense of freedom by putting on the “old ball and chain.” But “if we commit ourselves to one person for life, this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather, it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession but participation” (Madeleine L’Engle). Likewise, “love is a vessel that contains both security and adventure, and commitment offers one of the great luxuries of life: time. Marriage is not the end of romance, it is the beginning” (Esther Perel). Security, adventure, freedom, and true knowledge of self and other…they’re all wrapped up in love. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. Something to celebrate and share on Valentine’s Day.

“Oh, [and] how a quiet love can drown out every fear” (Jessica Katoff). “…Perfect love casts out fear” (Peter, the apostle of Christ). Why? Because fear involves punishment. Fear involves betrayal. Fear involves hurt. But love casts all that out. Love heals. Love cherishes. Love builds up. Love provides a safe haven and secure port. Love lets us rest “naked and unafraid” in the arms of another. That’s a great Valentine’s Day gift.

But don’t get me wrong. Love does demand something of the one who love. It demands action. Love is a verb, not a noun. “Love doesn’t sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread; remade all of the time, made new” (Ursula K. Leguin). We have to invest in love with a curiosity to know the other person, a desire to serve the other person, and a willingness to sacrifice for their benefit. Will you invest in love? When you do, you’ll know why I love to celebrate Valentine’s Day every day.

A Radical Valentine’s Day Gift for Your Spouse

We use the word “love” so often and in so many contexts that it has lost its meaning. After all, I love cheesecake, I love sunny days, AND I love my wife. Hopefully, my love for cheesecake (which satisfies my sweet tooth) and sunny days (which makes me feel physically warm and relaxed) is different than the love I have for my wife. If I’m going to have a healthy marriage, my love for my wife has to transcend the self-focused love of satisfying my sweet tooth with cheesecake and my enjoyment of physical warmth on a sunny day. My love for my wife, our love for our spouses, needs to transcend our self-centered desires. A healthy, lifelong marriage calls for a radical love. In fact, this kind of love may be the perfect radical Valentine’s Day gift for your spouse.  Let me explain the gift of radical love and some of its benefits for you and your spouse.

  • The radical love of a healthy, lifelong marriage involves giving of the self. Radical love requires us to give up our sense of entitlement and selfishness in order to give ourselves to our spouse. Radical love compels us to give our spouse our time and our energy rather than leaving them the leftovers of each. Radical love leads us to give them our attention and our listening ear. It means we give up our “I” to enjoy the “we” of marriage. Radical love invites us to give our life to our spouse…for the purpose of enjoying a lifetime together. Yes, radical love demands we give ourselves to our spouse. 
  • The radical love of a healthy, lifelong marriage also involves serving our spouses. We love our spouse and love to serve our spouse when we commit to a radical love. Who does what around the house is not an argument because we both love each other enough that we want to serve the other by doing the tasks necessary to maintain a healthy home. Radical love looks for opportunities to serve in simple ways and major ways. Radical love serves by doing the menial things like taking out the garbage or cleaning the car. It also serves by doing the noble things like supporting our spouse’s dreams. Radical love serves…and loves to serve. So ask your spouse, “How can I serve your today?”
  • The radical love of a healthy, lifelong marriage also rejoices to sacrifice for our spouses. All marriages require sacrifice. Those in the healthiest marriages, however, take joy in the opportunity to make a sacrifice for their spouse. The sacrifices of radical love may be simple or complex but, either way, the sacrifice is made willingly and lovingly. For instance, radical love sacrifices “my” desire to be heard long enough to listen to my spouse’s point of view. Radical love sacrifices “my” agenda to support my spouse’s agenda. Radical love sacrifices to express the depth of our love for our spouse.

Radical love is the perfect gift to give your spouse this Valentine’s Day. This gift of radical love would strengthen your marriage and draw you into a more intimate relationship with your spouse. Even more, your children would grow more secure and even happy as they witness this radical love. They would likely learn to practice radical love with you and one another as you model it. Soon, your whole family will be practicing radical love, even with those outside your family. It might even change a community…and it all starts with committing to radical love in your marriage.

Start a Revolution for Valentine’s Day!

“You say you want a revolution, well, you know…we all want to change the world.”–The Beatles
I have an idea…a revolutionary idea. It is not a new idea. On the contrary, it is an ancient idea written to the Ephesians some 2000 years ago by Paul, a wise Jewish evangelist. His words of love are revolutionary, even today. Implementing his ideas this month will enhance your Valentine’s Day as they revolutionize your relationship with your spouse. Even more, I believe that implementing these words in our homes will spark a revolution that will not only change our families but the world. Yes, this revolution does begin at home. It begins with a personal change in how I respond to my family. This revolution has several components; but I only want to speak of one today. This first component begins the revolution; and it sounds…well, rather revolutionary by today’s standards. Let me explain.
We begin a revolution to change the world by surrendering to the influence of our spouse. You heard it right–give up your individual rights and entitlements and accept the influence of your spouse. Surprisingly, a compliment under this revolutionary love will sound like this: “You are a wonderfully submissive person” or “I really admire how you let your spouse influence your decisions.” I know that goes against the grain of our society, but it is supposed to be revolutionary. It even goes against the grain of our personal sense of entitlement. But, this attitude of surrender and submission can change your family for the better! When we accept the influence of our spouse (and even our family), we remain open to them. We voluntarily and gracefully keep an attitude of cooperation in the forefront of our mind. We constantly look for ways to surrender our personal desires to satisfy their desires. We accept their ideas and opinions. We listen closely, looking for areas of compromise and areas in which we can surrender our rights for them. We constantly seek to lift them above us in having needs met. We become their servant. This revolutionary concept—submission—begins the revolution!
To accept the influence of our spouse and family may be as simple as changing how we squeeze the toothpaste or hang the roll of toilet paper. It may prove as simple as whether we leave the toilet seat up or down—submitting our desire to our spouse’s desire. However, it can also become more complex when we discuss issues like where to go for vacation, where to live, or what job to take. In these complex areas, we will have to open up to our family, listen carefully to their words, understand the emotion behind those words, and value them enough to accept their opinion. To accept the influence of our spouse and family means that we allow their opinion to influence our decision. It all sounds great, life changing…but challenging to accomplish. Still, “you say you want a revolution….” And so it begins!

15 Tips to Keep Love Alive

Valentine’s Day will come and go, but you can keep the spirit of Valentine’s Day alive in your family. How? I’m glad you asked. Here are some “daily ideas” to help you keep the love alive. For more ideas, you can visit “The Honor Bank” on our website, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. In the meantime, each of the daily deposits listed here will keep the spirit of Valentine’s Day alive in your family for months to come!

Give each family member a sincere compliment.

  • Tell each family member one character trait that you see in them and appreciate. Give an example of how you have seen that trait in action.
  • Thank each family member for two things they did for your family this week.
  • Tell each family member something they have done that makes you proud of them.
  • Write a short note telling your family how much you love them. Hide it somewhere that they will find it during the day.
  • Do a chore today that is usually done by another family member.
  • Give your spouse and your children a 6-second hug today. In fact, give them two 6-second hugs-one to start the day and one to end the day.
  • During dinner (or call a family meeting), tell your family three ways in which they make you happy.
  • Give each family member a small gift or card that you know they will like. Maybe they will like a bag of M&M’s, a homemade card, flowers, or a home cooked meal.
  • Mail each family member a card. Yes, I said mail. Isn’t it exciting to receive a surprise card or package through the “snail mail?”
  • Give up the last bite of ice cream, the best seat, or the last cookie…and let a family member have it instead.
  • Tell each family member one thing you respect about them.
  • Find a sincere reason to say thank you to your spouse three times today…do the same for each of your children.
  • Give each family member a back rub or massage this week.
  • Tell your spouse how attractive you find them…be specific about what you find most attractive.
15 simple ideas…Although they sound small, these daily deposits into the Family Bank of Honor keep love alive. If you find that hard to believe, try it out. In fact, I dare you to try out these ideas and others from the Honor Bank. If you do, you will find the spirit of Valentine’s Day alive and well in your family for days to come!

The Best Valentine’s Gift Ever

Valentine’s Day approaches and couples everywhere busily search for the perfect gift. Perhaps you have considered jewelry, hotel getaways, singing cards, romantic dinners, or funny knick knacks to make your spouse laugh. Let me suggest that you give the best Valentine’s gift ever. (Don’t worry; no pressure.) Although this sounds like a bold statement, I believe you truly can give the best Valentine’s gift ever. It will not cost you much financially, but it will save you tens of thousands of dollars. More importantly, it will bring you more long-term joy than you can imagine. What is the best Valentine’s gift ever? A “3-step promise of commitment.” “What? Wait a second. My wife knows I’m committed. She will not thrill at the promise of commitment.” I think she will (and for you women, so will he). Read through the “3-step promise of commitment” and judge for yourself.
  •  Step One: Write a certificate of commitment to your spouse. You most likely made vows of commitment during your wedding ceremony. That’s OK. For Valentine’s Day, rewrite those vows (even add to them) based on the experience and knowledge you have gained during your time married. Recommit to “stick with your spouse” through thick and thin, health and sickness, aging bodies, aging minds, good times and bad, joyous occasions and times of deep sorrow, times of complete agreement and times of passionate disagreement, times of great gain and times of painful loss. Put it in writing—not long, no more than the front side of one page. Make it neat and official-looking. Laminate it and read it to your spouse over dinner…maybe even in front of your kids, extended family, or friends. Let everyone know that you remain committed to your spouse and are determined to maintain that commitment for the rest of your life.
  • Step Two: Commit to build intimacy by having no less than 20-30 minutes of meaningful conversation a day with your spouse. The average married couple in the US only spends 4 minutes a day in meaningful conversation. Commit to change this in your marriage. Commit to build intimacy through meaningful conversation. You can meet over a cup of coffee, breakfast, or while taking a walk. Talk about the news, daily activities, movies, books, spiritual insights gained, or interactions you had with someone while away from your spouse. Go even deeper by discussing the emotions, good and bad, that these experiences aroused in you. Converse like you did while dating by 1-remaining curious about what your spouse is thinking and feeling and 2-accepting your spouse’s ideas and opinions as important and valid. This daily commitment will lead to deeper intimacy with your spouse.
  • Step Three: Commit to meeting your spouse’s needs and desires on a daily basis. Make meeting your spouse’s needs and desire a top priority in your life. Remember what excites your spouse, the little things that interest her, the love language that speaks to her most profoundly, and the nuanced vulnerabilities that you can protect. Commit to keeping your spouse foremost in your heart and mind, number one in your life. This may mean doing little things like the dishes now and again or big things like coming home from work early on a regular basis.
“Wait a minute. This gift is not worth anything!” Actually, considering the average financial cost of divorce, this gift is worth at least $20,000. That figure does not even come close to the value of emotional intimacy you and your spouse will gain. It does not even touch the value of watching your children blossom in response to the “3-step promise of commitment” you share with their other parent. And, if you don’t mind me saying, the “3-step promise of commitment” will have a profound (and pleasurable) impact on the passion and physical intimacy in your marriage. After all, studies suggest that long-term married couples have the most satisfying sex life…they know one another, they know what makes the other person happy, and they are committed to satisfying and pleasing their spouse. Just imagine: dinner and a night in a hotel-$200; a 1/4 CT TW diamond necklace-$750, a “3-step promise of commitment”-priceless…and growing more valuable every day you practice it. Really, the “3-step promise of commitment” is the best Valentine’s gift ever!

7 Valentine’s Day Ideas for Family

Valentine’s Day is only two weeks away, time to come up with a romantic idea or two. You might also think of a creative way to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family…after all, you love each person in your family. Why not celebrate love with everyone in your family? In case you haven’t made any plans yet, here are a couple ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
     ·         Send cards or flowers to everyone in your family. Mail them or use email cards. Put a card and a flower on the table for them to find at breakfast. Have a bouquet of flowers sent to them at home or work. Don’t forget to include a simple note in the card or with the flowers.
     ·         Maybe your family would enjoy a fruit, cookie, or balloon bouquet more than flowers. If so, have it delivered to your home and then take the time to sit down as a family to enjoy the love…along with a cookie, piece of fruit, or a quick game of balloon volleyball.
     ·         Write each member of your family a love letter. It may seem odd to write a love letter to your son or daughter, so maybe call it a letter of blessing instead.  Either way, take the time to write them a lesson expressing your love. Here’s how: For each family member, think of 2-3 traits or characteristics you admire and appreciate about them. Write them down along with 1-2 incidents that exemplify those traits. Keep it short, no longer than the front of one page. During dinner, read each letter out loud. Perhaps you can write a more intimate letter for your spouse and save it for later…when you’re alone.
     ·         Develop a treasure hunt. Write notes that explain how you feel about each family member (your treasure). Each note can include how you feel about your family followed by a hint or riddle about where to find the next note. You might write something like, “I love to play board games with each of you, which provides a hint as to where you’ll find the next note.” Have the last note lead to the dinner table where you can enjoy a meal, conversation, and dessert. Make the dinner special…candlelight, soft music, and everyone’s favorite dessert.
     ·         Everyone loves a good story, especially stories remembering times of love and connection. And, children love to hear stories about their parents’ lives. So, today at dinner, enjoy telling the story of “how I met your mother.” Tell stories about how you met your spouse and the fun times you had together. Tell the story of your life together right up to the stories that include your children and the fun you have as a family. It will become a family story fest recalling your family heritage.
     ·         Prepare a Valentine’s Day breakfast. Include heart-shaped pancakes, a candy heart message on every plate, and chocolate kisses for dessert. Not a morning person? No problem, have breakfast for lunch or dinner.
     ·         Spend the evening making a family storybook. Cut out construction paper hearts and connect them on one side. Collect pictures of you and your spouse, your children, your family, your vacations, special events, prom dates, etc. Collect as many pictures as you like. Spend the evening going through the pictures and gluing them into your family storybook. It will be your own fairy tale (or fish story in the case of the Salmon family).
Whatever you decide to do, remember to have fun. Enjoy one another’s company and celebrate your family on Valentine’s Day.