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Cary Quashen: Don’t wait for Feb. 14 to show your love

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Posted: February 11, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 11, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

It’s February and love is in the air. It’s almost here, the one day each year (Valentine’s Day) we all seem to be willing to tell others we love them.

It’s a huge industry — in 2010, consumers spent more than $14.1 billion dollars — even in a tough economy. This year’s estimates are that consumers could spend as much as $17.6 billion dollars.

The pressure is on. Television and radio extol the virtue of “Every kiss begins with Kay” — Kay Jewelers, that is.

Heart-shaped pendants, diamond rings and jewelry with such names as “Lover’s Embrace” are supposed to show are undying love and affection. But do they?

Hallmark encourages us to pucker up for Valentine’s Day. How about hugs and kisses on a daily basis?

If you think the simple act of hugging or kissing someone you love takes too much time, it’s time to rethink your priorities.
There are very easy ways to be a sweetheart to yourself and your loved ones all year long:

Praise often. Mark Twain once said, “I can live two months on one good compliment!” Praise more; criticize less. Many experts agree that the positive things you say to your loved one should outweigh the negatives by three to one.

Be very specific in your compliments and look for ways to praise your loved one’s skills, talents and abilities. If you can’t compliment them, examine why.

Take good care of your body, mind and soul. I am talking about your health. We tend to ignore some of our own health needs thinking we don’t want to worry or scare our loved ones. Exercise, keep mentally fit, make those doctor appointments and take care of business, before your poor health takes care of you. It’s tough to love a dead person. 

Be patient with your loved ones, not just tolerant. Ask them what they need from you, and, here’s the hard part, do whatever you can to meet those needs. Being selfless is tough.

When you are stressed and unavailable, help your loved ones understand that your condition is about your life, not them, and reaffirm your love.

Listen to them. Avoid interrupting. Give them your undivided attention.

Apologize when you make a mistake or do something you regret. Really mean “I’m sorry” when you say it. Learn to forgive others and mean it. No holding grudges. Forgiveness is a crucial ingredient to a good working relationship.

Tell your loved ones how much you like being with them, if you mean it. If you don’t, examine what about the relationship dynamics — at that moment or in general — affects your feelings in a negative way. Then find a way to change that from within yourself. Remember you’re the one who needs to change. It’s about unconditional love.

Expect and support their best, but don’t expect or require perfection. Life is about progress not perfection. Again praise their efforts — avoid judging them. Avoid comparing them to anyone else. Instead, help them develop their unique self and way of being.

When the one you love withdraws, offer love instead of demands or threats. Be understanding when they have a difficult day. Give them space when they need it.

Love them no matter what, and especially affirm your love when you are feeling angry. If you are feeling love for them at the time you express anger, your anger is safe. Otherwise, they experience anger as having the power to displace love.

What about the other 364 days of the year? how do we best show love and support for our loved ones — our husbands, wives, significant others, our children? Have you thought about it? What can you do differently to show you care 365 days a year instead of just one, Feb. 14?

Add to the list I started and make every day a Valentine’s Day.

None of us have to return to harsh words, bickering and conditional love with expectations.

Cary Quashen is the founder and president of ACTION Family Counseling and ACTION Parent & Teen Support Group Programs. For more information, call (661) 713-3006.

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