The season of high romance is here! Yet Valentine\’s Day can turn into the most dangerous day of the year for love and romance.

Because none of us receive formal training or preparation for how to
date effectively or how to create a passionate long-lasting marriage,
the full burden of our desire for an intense, satisfying love and
passionate, swept away romance tends to fall on Valentine\’s Day, with
Cupid, The Florist, and The Candy Maker trying to fill the bill.
However, when fantasies of perfect romance, perfect gifts, perfect
love-making collide with not-so-perfect reality, love loses out to
broken dreams and broken hearts.

You can easily take the danger out of Valentine\’s Day. All it takes is
a change in consciousness– the realization that your date, your
partner, your spouse is not you. You are two different, miraculously
unique individuals who will see and do things differently. But as
obvious as this may appear, this simple fact is not commonly understood
or appreciated.

Several years ago, on Valentine\’s Day, Judith was at the counter of a
homeopathic pharmacy when a florist delivered two dozen red roses to
one of the female clerks. The flowers were beautiful. The clerk\’s face
was not, as she barely contained her displeasure. Another customer
commented that she didn\’t seem happy with the flowers. Her response?
“Oh, they\’re from my husband. He does the same thing every year. It\’s
boring.”

The young woman was not only disappointed, she was also ruining her
marriage. Why? Because she assumed that her husband should know exactly
what she liked and what she wanted without ever having to tell him.
From her point of view, he should be just like her–then he would know
exactly how to please her. She wouldn\’t have to say a word and he would
automatically know not to send the same flowers each year even though
she had oohed and aahed over his roses their first Valentine\’s Day
together.

You may be thinking “But that would spoil the romance.”Yet what romance
exists in this example that could be ruined? Rather it is her silence,
her presumption that she does not have to recognize her husband across
the distance of their differences that is the fundamental obstacle to
the true romance she wants.

Typically differences are blamed for relationship failure. But in
reality they are the only true way to experience deep intimacy and real
romance. The fact is, it\’s the way you treat the differences that
either makes or breaks your relationships!

So should you receive something this Valentine\’s Day that you don\’t
like, treat the love expressed by the gift with respect. Then speak up
graciously and explain what it is that is not to your taste. If the
item can be returned, by all means take it back. And do it together.
That way you can enjoy the intimacy of each other\’s presence during the
vulnerability of this transaction. Your invitation makes it clear how
much you appreciate the loving thought of the gift. At the same time
you will be expressing your desire to be known and loved for who you
really are. And wouldn\’t that be a Valentine\’s gift worth giving and
receiving?

We know a couple who live near Denver. The day after Valentine\’s Day
two years ago she was headed up high into the mountains for a
conference. The snow was particularly thick and the roads were
dangerous. Although she was a seasoned driver, he decided to buy her
four new snow tires as his Valentine\’s gift. Rather than embrace his
care for her well being, she voiced the typical complaint that he
wasn\’t very romantic. Yet how more romantic could he be than to take
action to assure her safety and well being, to make sure that the woman
of his heart will return to him safe and sound?

The problem is that, even though there have been significant changes in
the way men and women relate to one another, Valentine\’s Day is still
considered a day when predominantly men give gifts to women. This is
changing and we completely support that change. But society must also
evolve a new understanding of romance to broaden its meaning and allow
for a full range of romantic, loving expression, making this day an
equal opportunity for men and women to experience the tenderness of
both giving and receiving.

To help do this, the unconscious narcissism in the two examples above can be avoided if you follow two of love\’s simple secrets.

First, receive the love that comes to you even if it is in a different
form than you expected. Remember, Valentine\’s Day is a day of love, and
love comes in many packages and wrappings.

Second, should you be disappointed, keep in mind that the other person
is not you. Open yourself by using simple curiosity to find out the
other side of the story.

What did the clerk\’s husband believe was important about having red roses delivered to her at work every year?

What were the thoughts and feelings of the man in Denver when he chose tires as an expression of romance?

And if you are the one whose gift is a disappointment, open your
curiosity to find out why. Sincerely wanting to better know your
partner is a gift that builds a loving bridge across the differences, a
distance that when ignored continues to grow to the point that it can
and very often
does destroy any love that was once there. With the heartfelt
gift of curiosity, new understanding and deeper intimacy are born from
the fertile soil of the clash of two people\’s differences.

Curiosity and Receiving–the most powerful aphrodisiacs for Valentine\’s Day (and all through the year)!

When you open your heart to receive what is actually given to you then
you stay in reality, not smitten with a fantasy that the other person
can never live up to. Yes, from time to time we will all be
disappointed, but that always provides an opening to gain deeper
awareness, to learning
more about the depth and honesty of your own love and about who
your partner really is. Then you can teach one another more about how
you would like to celebrate Valentine\’s Day and other special times in
the future. You are active in the creation of your special romance, not
a victim of your secret expectations.

This year make sure you are available for the love you want. Be
generous in your giving, and, more importantly, stay open to be loved
in ways you\’ve never considered. Remember, it\’s only through the magic
of your differences that you can both be loved for who you really are.