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Published February 03 2012

Val Farmer: Love means loved one’s well-being first in mind

Val Farmer chose this as his favorite Valentine column. It was published in July 2006.

What is love?

Love is the expression of attitudes and behavior in which the well-being of a loved one is first and foremost in our minds. Our happiness is not complete without our partner’s happiness. This loving consideration is expressed in many ways in the constancy of our daily actions.

The big things are the little things. The lift and loveliness of life come with daily doses of kindness, consideration, courtesy, thoughtfulness, affection and appreciation.

What is love? It is greeting your loved one in a special way, offering a helping hand, giving personalized attention, being patient with imperfection, remembering special occasions, communicating with an affectionate touch or knowing glance.

It is listening with an understanding heart, giving comfort in time of need, sharing innermost feelings and expressing one’s love. It is heartfelt recognition and admiration for what your loved one does and who he or she is. It is a desire to please and to know how to please. Love is personal. It is appreciating the love that comes from your mate. It is putting he or she first above all else and all others.

“True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well-being of one’s companion.” – Gordon B. Hinckley

E Sharing time together.

A wife, exasperated with her husband, said, “Don’t tell me you love me! Do something with me!” Love and time form a bond.

What is sharing time together? It is working side by side, inviting him or her along, finding ways to be together, having projects in common, doing things together. It is playing together, laughing together, smiling together, planning together. It is preferring and seeking out each other’s company. It is capturing the moment, the occasion, the opportunity and sharing the experience with your loved one.

“The very society of joy redoubles it; so that, while it lights upon my friend it rebounds upon myself, and the brighter his candle burns the more easily will it mine. It is time being made the servant of your love.”–- South

E Growing together.

Your spouse is a person who needs to grow, to experience newness, change, self-discovery and accomplishment. As there is a need for togetherness in marriage, there is also a need for separateness. There are some mountains that can only be climbed alone.

Have the wisdom and self-confidence to be a friend to your loved one’s growth . . . a friend to his or her dreams and aspirations. Sacrifice for it, help make it happen. Both you and your relationship will benefit.

What is growing together? It is making time to talk, enriching one another, having goals and working toward them. It is making available freedom and resources for your partner’s use, encouraging time alone and time away, coordinating your work to accommodate his or her plans and goals.

E Facing adversity together.

Adversity is the cement that binds us together. Surviving tough times, heartaches, disappointments, pain, wearisome days, discouragement and even tragedy hallows a relationship.

Faith is tested, courage is demonstrated, support is given. An experience is shared that no one else can understand. You are there for each other in time of need.

There is another type of adversity to overcome ... the pain of being truly separate, different and imperfect human beings. Life together is not without constructive criticism, a challenge to be better, an unflattering mirror held up to our view and a humble admission of being wrong.

What is facing adversity together? It is enduring the worst while hoping for the best, giving warm words and sustaining support, lifting our loved one when we ourselves are bowed down, persisting when we do not feel like it.

E Keeping the spark of romance alive.

Most romantics don’t think it is romance if it is their idea. The ball is in your court. If there is no everyday experience of being loved and cherished, gestures of romance will likely be unappreciated or even resented.

What is romance? Romance blossoms in the rich soil of the unexpected. Romance is spontaneous, unpredictable. Romance is unhurried. It is fun ... a fun way of showing love.

Romance is the unexpected thoughtfulness, an affectionate touch, a surprising gesture of love, the perfect gift, a love note left to be found, a bouquet of wild flowers, a prearranged baby sitter for a surprise night out, an overnight trip just for the two of you. It is playfulness and humor wherever you may be.

It is letting your loved one know he or she is desired and attractive. It is a mood and atmosphere of love, the care in which the stage is set, the extra effort for the perfect touch. It is sexuality cloaked in mystery. It is male and female discovering each other anew. It is the unexpected moment of being cherished by one who loves you.

Val Farmer is a clinical psychologist specializing in family business consultation and mediation with farm families. He lives in Wildwood, Mo., and can be contacted through his website, http://valfarmer.com.