‘Tis the season once again when we encourage a nation to love. I’m not even sure how a national holiday like this begins (although I’m sure I could Google it), but it speaks to a deep human need for connection and belonging. We anticipate a day to gaze into each other’s eyes over a romantic dinner, in a special place and hope that love is sparked, deepened or reignited. Valentine’s Day is a day when we’ve built an opportunity to chase away our distractions and to focus on love.
I know we are created to belong to one another and to God. I think most people would agree that long-term relationships are satisfying and are goals with family and friends. The trick seems to be in building these long-term relationships to withstand the myriad of threats that life compiles. Misunderstandings, disagreements, difference in needs and preferences and so many others relationship-dissolving forces come without warning or intention. It’s as though the thing we want the most in life has a constant opposing force pushing us apart.
In all the years I’ve worked with couples that are doing their best to forge a strong connection in the midst of this hostile earthly environment I’d say there are some who are more successful than others. There are some keys to building long-term relationships that might surprise you in both how easy they are to apply and in how effective they are in forging strong connection.
Please note: The following will only work if the person applying them holds in their heart the goal of connection. If your goal is distance, then nothing will work to create connection.
It’s simple. Be kindly affectionate toward one another (Rom 12:10) It’s one of the most effective relationship builders known to mankind. I know we want things to be more complicated, but it’s not. Be kind! Carry a tender heart into a conversation, apply soft eyes when looking at motives or actions or give someone the benefit of the doubt and watch a different outcome to what otherwise would bring disconnection.
I know we like to apply this to finances, but being generous toward others is a quick way to forge a union. Be constantly aware of how you can supply needs and desires in the person you are with. It can be as simple as pouring into a love language you know they have. Supply a touch or encouraging word, maybe move some heavy boxes into a storage area or pick up a poignant gift while you are out of town, any or all of these are ways to build your connection simply through thoughtful efforts to strengthen your connection. You can also make simple sacrifices and put someone else ahead of you. Show people that you are thinking of the needs you know they have and are eager to supply those needs as often as you can.
Hopefully this encourages you to expand Valentine’s Day into a life of creating, strengthening and protecting loving connections.