20 Valentine's Days Together: How To Keep The Spark Alive

13 February 2015

valentineskiss

Got your card written and your pressies all wrapped and ready for your Valentine?

WHAT?! What do you mean you don't believe in Valentine's Day and you don't see why we should all be coerced by commercial pressures into expressing our undying love on one designated day of the year? Have you no SOUL?

Sorry, I mean: how interesting and of course I respect your opinion. But suffice it to say, I'm kind of into Valentine's Day. Call me a commercial sell-out (I prefer to call myself an old romantic) but I think there's something lovely about the sheer silliness of it all.

The shops are full of heart-shaped everything, the kids come home from school or nursery with Valentine's gifts made of pasta painted red which you just can't help but cry over, and you linger in the card aisle of the supermarket wondering the best way to tell the one you love that he totally still floats your boat.

And yes, it's absurd that the price of a bunch of flowers shoots through the roof just because it's the 14th of February and no, I don't need the man I love to fork out out on a handful of limp-headed roses in order to feel special but C'MON. Couldn't we all do with more love and romance in our lives, and is it really so awful to buy into a bit of commercialism if the end result is that those around you are reminded how you feel about them?

I can't help myself. I just love Valentine's Day. What's more, tomorrow will my 20th Valentine's Day with my husband. Somewhere I've got a stash of all the cards he's sent me for Valentine's Day over the years, and I look forward to reading the slush he'll write this year as much as I did twenty years ago, when I wasn't even sure if he was the mystery admirer behind the card I got. 

Now, I'm not about to set myself up as a self-proclaimed lurve doctor - God forbid - but I reckon after twenty years of doing V-Day with the same dude, I'm pretty much well-qualified enough to share a pearl of wisdom with you on keeping the spark alive in a relationship.

So here it is. Drum roll please.

My single-most important tip for keeping your love alive? Read this book. No, it's not 50 Shades of Grey. It's The 5 Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts by Gary D. Chapman.

Now there are part of that book that are cheesy as all get out, and it's certainly got um, a 'spiritual' outlook that won't be everyone's cup of tea. But if you can, look beyond that. Because I can honestly say that understanding what our individual love languages are and - crucially - learning how to 'speak' each other's primary love language has been just about the most helpful thing we've ever done when it comes to figuring out how the hell to stay happy after 20 years of being all-too-familiar with each other's every character flaw and questionable habit.

You can even do a quiz on the website to find out what your love language is. And I've never tried this but I am reliably informed that there are also books available about understanding what love language your kids and teens speak, in order to better grasp how to make them feel most loved.

And here's a weird thing. Last night we discovered that our love languages have changed significantly since we last took the quiz to work out what they are. And guess what? We're more compatible than ever now; in fact, our primary love languages are the same. I think that's pretty cool. That in a world where you're constantly hearing that divorce is on the rise and high-profile relationship break-ups are in the headlines every single day, it's actually possibly to not only love the same person for twenty years, but to grow more compatible with them.

Now don't get me wrong; it's not all hearts and flowers around here, and we've had more than our fair share of the rocky times over the years. But what's really radical about that book, and what I think has really helped us in both good and bad times, is understanding that we all tend to express love in the ways in which we most want to receive it.

So if you're someone who just loves getting little gifts and feel most loved when someone gives you something that shows how well they know you or how much they've thought about you, then the chances are you're also the kind of person who expresses your sentiment towards other people by - you guessed it - buying them gifts. But if gifts isn't that person's primary love language - it might be physical touch, for example - then no matter how much love or thought you've put into the gift you give them, it just won't mean all that much to them; certainly not as much as a good old-fashioned smacker or a long, loving hug might.

So do me a favour this Valentine's Day. Drop your guard, forget being the Valentine's Day equivalent of Scrooge and the Grinch all rolled into one, and just throw yourself headlong into a little bit of showing the people you love how much they mean to you. And if you can, try showing them in words or actions that will make them feel truly loved, not just that come naturally to you.

Then come and tell us all about it on our Facebook page. We'd love to hear whether you're getting all loved up - or indeed are indulging in a bit of Anti-Valentine's-Day fun.

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