Monday, February 5, 2007

Eight Valentine's Day Gifts That Can Improve Your Marriage

Eight Valentine's Day Gifts That Can Improve Your Marriage
By Nancy Wasson

Are you wondering what to give your spouse for Valentine’s Day this year? In addition to the candy, flowers or romantic card you select, would you like to give something else with long-reaching impact?

If so, here are eight Valentine’s Day gifts to consider that can improve the quality of your marriage. Many are free or low-cost and won’t strain the budget, but they all have the potential to be the “gift that keeps on giving.”

1. Giving extra time and attention to your spouse each week. This is a priceless gift that will enrich your relationship and contribute to better intimacy.

Be creative and make time in your schedule to sit and talk with your spouse and to do fun things together. You may need to reduce the time you watch TV or talk on the phone, but the payoff will be worth it.

2. Planning fun or interesting experiences versus expensive meals in a restaurant. While eating out can be fun, it can also be stressful for some couples because of the demand for on-going conversation while you’re sitting across the table from each other. If your communication is currently strained because of marital conflict or problems, this can feel awkward.

Instead, what about going bowling or skating? Or attending a play or concert? Going for a ride in a hot air balloon? Taking a gourmet cooking class together? Learning to dance the Cha-Cha? Visiting a nearby aquarium, zoo, botanical gardens, art museum, or historical site together? Think in terms of sharing an experience together that will be enjoyable and bonding.

3. Making your sexual relationship a consistent priority. The on-going importance of sex in a marriage is often underrated as time goes by. The demands of children, family members, a career, housework, and other activities can siphon off your energy and time.

Neglecting this vitally important part of your marriage can lead to serious problems such as affairs, the feeling of being roommates or friends instead of lovers, and the eroding of sexual and emotional intimacy. Just because your mate doesn’t talk about being unhappy with the sexual status quo doesn’t mean that all is well. Take the initiative and invest renewed energy into your sex life.

4. Taking good care of yourself so that you’re happy, centered and balanced. You can’t give someone else what you don’t already have yourself. Peace, love, and harmony come from inside of you and aren’t created by external events.

There’s that funny saying, “If Mama isn’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” There’s a lot of truth to that in a family. The emotions and moods of either spouse can throw off the harmony in the entire household. So make a commitment to treat yourself with respect and love. Get extra rest, eat right, exercise, keep in touch with friends, and nurture yourself. You’ll have more energy to give to your mate if you do.

5. Working on yourself and your personal issues in individual counseling so that your unresolved “hot buttons” don’t cause problems in your marriage. This can be a huge gift to give your mate—the gift of an emotionally healthier you.

Individual counseling can help you to become more aware of your own issues that are triggered by others and help you to see the “bigger picture.” You can’t change what you’re not aware of. The resulting self-awareness from counseling can help you to understand yourself better, make necessary changes, and become easier to live with.

6. Improving your relationship skills by reading books, listening to CD’s or tapes, and, if your mate is willing, going to couples counseling together. Educating yourself about relationship dynamics, strategies, and tips can greatly improve your ability to work out win-win solutions with your mate. You can check out books, CD’s, and tapes from the library or search online for relationship guides.

If your mate is willing, you could read or listen to the materials together. Or you could invest in some couples counseling to help you cope with present challenges or to prevent future problems.

7. Expanding your circle of friends individually and as a couple to include more positive, inspiring people. You are influenced by the friends you hang out with—either for better or for the worse. To become more positive in approach and to achieve your relationship goals, be on the lookout for people who have the type of attitude and marriage that you would like to have.

Identify those individuals who bring out the best in you and look for ways to create friendships with them, either individually or as a couple. The more positive, encouraging, motivated, and inspiring people you surround yourself with, the greater the odds that you’ll change yourself and your relationship for the better.

8. Deepening your own spiritual connection and sharing this goal with your mate, if possible. Inner peace, calm, and faith can be strengthened as you deepen your own spiritual connection, and this can have a positive impact on your marriage. If you and your spouse are fortunate enough to share this goal, the resulting feeling of soul connection can be deeply rewarding.

If you don’t have similar beliefs about spiritual matters, look for other ways to share experiences that take you “out of yourself” and into the awareness of a power greater than yourself. Moments such as these can occur when you’re looking at beautiful scenery such as mountains, lakes, streams, the ocean, a field of wildflowers, birds flying overhead, or lying on your back at night looking up at the stars. Sharing these special moments together is a gift you can both give your relationship.

Nancy J. Wasson, Ph.D., is co-creator of Overcome Control Conflict with Your Spouse or Partner, available at She is also co-author of Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says "I don't love you anymore!" which is available at, as well as a free weekly Keep Your Marriage Internet Magazine . Dr. Wasson offers telephone and email coaching to individuals and couples who want to overcome relationship problems and create a rewarding, loving partnership.

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1 comment:

Sean Carter said...

Hey this is quite interesting to read through...thanks for sharing your ideas....i found them really interesting...well i've also posted a few ideas and suggestions for Valentines Day over at my blog so drop by sometime and check out all that's there...and while you're at it do share your thoughts!!!