Mental health notes: One day of 365 is not enough to show love

Saint Valentine was a roman priest who was beheaded in 170 A.D. on or around Feb. 14. His crime had been performing marnux ceremonies for young men who were supposed to remain single in order to make better soldiers!

How this sad tale became translated into one billion Hallmark cards sent annually (mostly by women!) needs further research but any opportunity to spread love around should be welcomed. So, when the dozen red roses begin to wither and the chocolates have been eaten, we might turn once more to improving the relationship we do have — perhaps this time permanently.

Here are a couple of suggestions, oldies but goodies, to help do the job: 

— Criticism is, perhaps, the most damaging of habits — quickly expressed, slowly forgotten;

— Remember the “you” rule — “you always: and “you never” guarantees that your partner has either stopped listening or is rehearsing a counter defense;

—  Almost as bad is the silent treatment (which women have perfected, and which really speaks volumes). Instead you might say, “I feel hurt, angry, lonely, unloved. Etc. when you…” Better, Not perfect.

— Better still, you might start a conversation with a word of appreciation (after all, this is the person you fell in love with) and present your complaint in the same tone you would use with your co-worker, boss, or employee;

— If it is your partner who wants to voice a complaint try to listen without interruptions or counter attacks, avoid offensive body language (rolling your eyes) as well as the “yes, but” response;

— “S/he started it” seems to be the defense of our 3-year-old and the countries shown on the TV news who are defending the slaughter of thousands.

Back to Valentine’s Day: Your partner might have failed to stop at Hallmark or the flower ship.

Avoid playing the guilt trip.

Look around you. Is there anyone you know or know of who might need a sign that someone cares a bit? It’s worth the postage stamp.

Teach your children that one day of 365 is not enough to show love and appreciation and help them to make the transition from getting to giving.

Editor’s note: Hedi McKinley who lives in Altamont, is a psychiatric social worker in private practice in Albany.

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