Some of the best Valentines gifts come neither from shopping online nor tied with a bow. They’re our thoughts and actions, offered as a reflection of love and appreciation.
According to the field of interpersonal neurobiology, the brain is constantly changing. And that is impacted by how we interact daily. Loving relationships can actually alter brain circuits that shape memories and emotions.
Remember the chemistry when you and your partner first fell in love? Depending on how we treat each other, those deep feelings can last a lifetime. We change neural functions when we decide to be more compassionate. Holding hands is enough to reduce stress or minimize physical pain. And the possibilities for opening our hearts are endless:
Express gratitude. Compliments serve as positive reinforcement at times when you may be taking each other for granted. If you notice a caring gesture or a job well done, why not mention it? You may be pleasantly surprised at what you receive in return.
Invest emotionally. Lightheartedness is often the first casualty of a busy family life. Make time for each other and keep the romance alive. Have fun and laugh a lot – humor and playfulness can lead to greater emotional intimacy.
Resolve conflict. If you’re feeling distant, meet halfway and try to respect the differences that set you apart. Look for the qualities you love about each other. Value your relationship more than being right as you learn the art of compromise.
Pay attention. If you feel bored or stuck, plan a surprise get-away or a well deserved vacation. Discover activities you both enjoy or train for a physical challenge. Being together, away from the routine, can kick-start your relationship.
Stay connected. When you have positive thoughts, say them out loud. A gentle touch, loving glance or long hug releases oxytocin, a bonding hormone. An affectionate moment can help you feel relaxed and more loved.
Studies show that celebrating positive events predict greater satisfaction than complaining about negative ones. Try to understand your partner’s frustration or disappointment. Although life may be hectic, you can lower tension while releasing euphoria-inducing chemicals. Be satisfied with small changes. Just like any valuable asset, the investment you make will be returned in multiples. Building a reservoir of goodwill can do wonders for your marriage. And with February being Valentines month of love, can you think of any better time than now?