I recently spoke at the wedding of a dear friend. My message to the couple who had made vows that day might have surprised some of those who were listening. You see, I told them that love is not enough.
Over the years I have been very disappointed to hear individuals state "But I love him" or "I really love her" followed by a description of all the horrible things that they have said and done to each other.
There is an expression that states: "Love covers a lot of sins" but who on earth wants to just go through life thinking that you have buried sins?
I have also heard people state that they are mean and hurt other people because they have been hurt. Revenge and retaliation are not good foundations for relationships.
Flowers, gifts, trips, and promises don't make up for unresolved issues. Therapy can help with healing, but it never takes away the initial damage that occurs when there is abuse, neglect, trauma or addictions.
Even anger management doesn't solve things completely. I don't want to "manage" my anger. I want to get rid of it and the only way to really do that is to learn how to forget - yourself and others.
So, what is the best thing that you can do for Valentine's Day. I believe it is to make a solemn commitment to yourself to do the following:
- Always act in a dignified manner. Think about how you might behave if you were being filmed for television or what the headline of the newspaper would read if you were the topic of the day. Would you really treat you family and friends the same way if you knew that your hero was watching? I admire Queen Elizabeth II. In her 93 years on earth she has never aired her dirty linen in public. She doesn't do interviews. Even in the face of trouble (which she has had plenty of) she has been the same - dignified.
- Say what you want - not what you don't want - Are you "Always messing up". Maybe rephrase that into "I'm determined to keep trying until I succeed". Is your relationship "Never going to improve" or is it "A work in progress"?
- Sincerely ask for and give forgiveness when appropriate - Be careful with this one. If you forgive too easily or too often, there is likely a problem that you are not addressing. If you don't forgive - yet another problem.
- Seek professional help when you are stuck - Often others who are trained and objective can offer your strategies that you might never have thought about.
So, it's Valentine's week and you are going to spread a lot of love into your world. Don't forget though, love is not enough. You also need to have dignified actions, positive words, forgiveness and sometimes professional input.
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!