The Valentine Prescription

By on February 12, 2014
With Valentine’s and Family Day just around the corner, you may not only be thinking of ways to say “I love you” to your partner, but to other members of your immediate family too.Saying “I love you” is not nearly as meaningful if our actions don’t match our words.  Showing love takes effort and intention. Combined, words and actions have a powerful effect.  So, what are your plans for showing love this year?  Here are some ideas.

Disconnect from technology. Connect with each other.  Resist the urge to check emails and texts throughout the day, especially while in the company of others. Encourage family members to avoid screens of any sort for specific periods of the day. Giving your undivided attention to the people you love is worth more than money can buy.

Do the unexpected. Prepare a snack, make someone you love a cup of tea or breakfast in bed when they least expect it. Clear the dishes in the sink and put a load of laundry in the washer without being asked. Offer to drive your child or partner when he or she is anticipating taking the bus. Don’t wait for an occasion such as Valentine’s Day or a birthday to plan a special event or reserve a table at your favourite restaurant. Include a special “thinking of you” note in a lunch box. Sprinkle rose petals on your bed.

Make someone else happy. On occasion, going to see a movie of his choice, even though it’s last on your list, says “I love you.” The same is true for listening to rock music, when you’d rather listen to jazz, for example. Hopefully, this show of love will be reciprocated on another occasion.

Schedule family time. As opposed to having each family member off in his or her own corner of the house, doing his or her own thing all the time. Making time to sit together as a family over several meals during the week, taking time to play a board game or even watch a favourite television show together, creates a feeling of connectedness. Even though most children would never admit to it, they enjoy the feeling that coming together as family evokes.

Be playful. When life gets too serious, play hide and seek, wrestle on the floor or skip down the street, arms linked. We’re never too old to let our hair down and to get back in touch with our childlike selves. The times that I’ve gotten into play fighting and tickling matches with my kids are some of my most treasured moments – and it doesn’t have to stop, even between adults.

Say hello and goodbye. It’s easy, as you rush out the door in the morning to forget to say goodbye. Saying goodbye and offering good wishes for a great day ahead says that you care. When you come back home, take time to connect with your family members. Catch up on the news of the day. If you’re occupied stop to ask how that person is doing.  Connecting is vital.

Take care of one another. Massage aching feet, offer a hot water bottle or a blanket when someone you love is cold, run a bath with bubbles and make sure that your family eats nourishing food.

Set clear limits for your children. Even though your children will say that they hate having a curfew and resent having to live by your rules, they inwardly know that the rules you have set are because you care. Asking them to return home at a reasonable time and to live with certain restrictions is your way of saying that you care.

Work as a team. When each family member knows that they have a role to play at making sure that projects get completed, that routine runs smoothly at home, he or she feels an integral part of a family unit. Sit down as a family to discuss an upcoming vacation or a difficulty that the family is facing, and then ask for everyone’s input, to show that you love them enough to include them in your discussion.

Say “I love you” with conviction. Anyone can say “I love you” but said too often or recited as part of a perfunctory goodbye ritual, these words can sound empty. Instead, cup your partner’s face in your hands, look into his or her eyes and say “I love you” with expression and emotion. Hug your children tight (if they’ll let you) and whisper “I love you.”

About Sara Dimerman (aka HelpMeSara)

Sara Dimerman has been an individual, couple and family therapist for over twenty years. She is one of North America’s most trusted parenting and relationship experts and the author of three books – ‘Am I A Normal Parent?’, ‘Character Is the Key’ and a book for couples – ‘How can I be your Lover when I’m too Busy Being your Mother?’ Learn more or listen to advice from Sara and her colleagues by searching for ‘helpmesara’ podcasts on iTunes or by visiting Check out her Facebook page at or follow Sara on Twitter @helpmesara.