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Communicate openly with your Valentine

Staff Report • Feb 15, 2013 at 8:44 AM

Valentine’s Day is a time to show your appreciation of the one you love. It has become a day to give roses, cards and boxes of chocolate to spouses, sweethearts and close friends.

The day is named for a Roman priest who lived during the 3rd century. When Emperor Claudius II decided single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied the decree and continued to secretly perform marriages for young lovers. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered he be put to death.

Legend has it Valentine, himself, sent the first greeting that now bears his name. While in prison, Valentine fell in love with a young woman who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is said he wrote her a letter that he signed, “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still used today.

But do valentine cards, chocolates and flowers adequately convey the proper sentiments of this day? Maybe not as much as you think. A group of researchers at the University of Maryland compiled a number of tips from a study a few years ago that they believed were more effective than candy and roses when it comes to stoking the flames of romance on Valentine’s Day. Their advice included:

Have a conversation about what initially attracted you to your valentine.

Try something new, such as sharing a new activity that will increase the bond between you and your partner.

Don’t be afraid to open yourself up to your partner. Discussing fears or anxieties openly with a partner builds trust.

Perhaps the best way to enhance your relationship with your valentine is actually listening to what your partner says. Listening and sharing personal information may sound like common sense, but findings on gender differences strongly suggest that men often fail to consider these helpful behaviors.

Not all love affairs end happily ever after, and it appears Tennesseans are among those who have decided marriage doesn’t literally mean “until death do us part.” Tennessee routinely places among the top five states in the nation for the number of divorces filed annually.

Experts say arguments over money are the No. 1 reason many couples end up in divorce court, so it’s no surprise that Tennessee also leads the nation in household bankruptcy filings. Frank talk about household finances is more effective than candy and roses when it comes to holding a relationship together. Couples should be completely honest when dealing with money issues. That means tracking spending habits and discussing ways to save at least 10 percent of the family’s combined income.

Couples also should be willing to discuss sensible ways of reducing household debt without playing the blame game. Talking about your household finances can enhance your relationship in very meaningful ways. And remember: Money can’t buy you love.

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