Valentine's Day was less than two weeks ago, but seems like a distant memory. It's a holiday that conjures up thoughts of romance, flowers, candy and kisses. On February 14, many people make time for each other and overtly show their caring. On February 15, however, it is business as usual. Somehow, continuing that spark gets lost in the day to day activities. While everyday doesn't have to be a holiday to celebrate caring, everyday should be a day to acknowledge caring.
Regardless of the reason, whether it’s being too busy, being grumpy, sad or non-communicative, being overwhelmed or dealing with MS, we seem to forget to live our lives well. Many will say that they can’t; they have too many things on their minds or too many troubles. MS takes up too much of their time. We all can, in fact, find time and strength to make changes, some small, to begin to live our lives better. Some of this pertains to lifestyle. It means finding things in your life that bring meaning to you and that give you a reason to get up in the morning. When your loved one comes home or you have some quiet time together, you’ll have things to talk about, to share, to discuss and to celebrate. There certainly are issues that consume a chunk of your time that also have to be discussed, but getting into that “MS Free” zone, as recommended by Roz Kalb, Ph.D., allows you to celebrate living well, thus enhancing your relationships and your emotional availability for others. Make plans for activities that will bring you pleasure as well as bring pleasure for your support partner. Yes, you may need to adapt plans as you go but without plans and hopes and dreams, lives and relationships get stagnant.
Let’s face it; life is not always a comedy show. All of us face tough issues, health problems, job loss, home loss and problems with our kids. But facing adversity with some humor is a lifesaver. Laughter must be well placed and shared by others. It is not meant to belittle or to lessen the importance of someone’s feelings. There are some really silly things that happen day to day, and the ability to laugh about them can lighten the load. Couples often feel that they are so busy dealing with the “important stuff” that they don’t’ have time to go to (or rent) a funny movie, to play a game, to dress up for Halloween, or to read a book together. Spending time with your girlfriends and giggling or gossiping or spending time with the guys at a game or a coffee shop, can be a great experience. It also allows you to share some of the mirth with your partner or family, lightening the mood for all.
Living well and laughing often will help you strengthen the relationship with your partner. Both will contribute to your intimacy staying fresh. Being emotionally available to each other promotes sharing that innermost part of you. These include thoughts, feelings, fears and failures. They also include hopes, dreams and successes. Couples may not know all the ins and outs of communication skills. If you feel clueless in this area, ask for help or get counseling. We need to know what we can give, what words or behaviors we can’t or won’t accept and what we want from our partners. Communication flows from that information. Couples need to keep touching each other by being affectionate, demonstrating feelings and offering and receiving romantic gestures. Intimacy is often a learned skill but without intimacy in a relationship, the rest is shallow. Intimacy is an investment in your relationship. It’s an investment that we all have to keep working on, through the good times and bad. We have to nurture each other and care for each other’s well being. Then every day can be a Valentine’s Day.