With Valentines day now passed, I start to wonder if those husbands, wives and partners sigh in relief at another one gone?

The media whip up the importance of romance and love all wrapped up in red roses, chocolates and candle light dinners. The reality however is far from this ideal picture.

Maybe in the throws of a new budding relationship or within the first few years of a relationship or marriage this ideal image can be maintained. If we move forward many years it starts to wain under a cloud of work, stress, children and the build up of constant responsibilities which makes time for romance in a relationship difficult to find.

There are 365 days in a year when a loved one can show their appreciation to each other in the way of gifts, cards, flowers, and so on. It doesn’t have to be left to one day in the calendar year to show this. But how does a loved one know what their partner wants and what makes them happy? Is it the big things or the little that puts a smile on their face or a spring in their step? Do we really know each other that well?

One answer is to ask each other a question such as, “ what do you feel is a romantic gesture from me to show I care?”. A short sentence, yet many of us do not think to ask the obvious, believing that their partner “should know what they want”. This is a common theme we see in our practice, couples who have been in relationship for many years feel that because of that time together their partner must know what’s in their head and understand their needs. A frequent misconception in relationships.

This brings us to communication, do we really ask each other the “right” questions, or do we avoid asking for what we need out of fear that this need will not be met leading to disappointment and rejection. There is a paradox here because it takes courage to ask for what we need from our partners, yet the thought of not getting this need met brings up many unconscious feelings from our past which stops us asking.

Many women we see complain that their partners are not romantic, this can lead them to feel unloved, unappreciated and not seen for their contribution to the relationship. They expect their other half to know how to be romantic, yet do not explain to them what romance means to them.

It is unfortunate that many men and women are brought up in families which do not display affection and romance in a healthy loving way. Every child learns from their care givers, behaviours and attitudes, more importantly their emotional development depends on what the child sees and embodies during early childhood. All parents form a blue print for their children in every aspect of development, especially relationships. If a father was unemotional, unavailable and not attentive to their spouse a male child is not taught or shown how to be romantic with a women. He didn’t see this from his own father and will repeat the same behaviour in adulthood with his partners. For Women, if they didn’t see affection and care given to them and their father by their mother, they also grow up not having a healthy emotional pattern reinforced.

This lack of functional emotional development we see more in men in therapy. Their wife or partner complains about a lack of romance and emotion from them which inhibits a connection at a deeper level. This is largely because women are on the whole generally better at this, not always, but being the feminine we find it easer to be caring, emotional and we do love romance. Blame some of this on all those “ rom coms” and the perfect boyfriend, husband, partner that films and romance novels churn out. That is the fantasy, the ideal or magical other that in fact we all seek, both male and female. Humans long to be in relationship not knowing or understanding that the most important relationship is with ourselves. If we start there, then there is a chance that we may get it right in other relationships.

A step towards this is by communicating with our partners what we need, what we like and to make it known to them. This avoids miscommunication and disappointment as our partners know what we want, and this includes being romantic. For women, don’t leave it up to your man or partner to work it out themselves, most men just do not understand romance. Rather than wait for a spontaneous gift or affirmation of their love, you may be waiting for a long time, write a list for your partner about the things you like and feel are romantic.

This may include, flowers, chocolates, a nice card or love note, cooking dinner, etc, its personal to each and lets not forget the men in this, get them to also write a list of what they feel are nice gestures of affection from you.  For us women It may not feel spontaneous, however most men do need help in understanding what women mean by being romantic, so give them a nudge!

Ask the question to each other, don’t leave these small but important gestures until Valentine’s Day to show your loved one your thinking about them and that you care. After all there are 364 more days in a year in which to do this.

Thanks for reading about romance and communication at loverelations.co.uk!

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