One of the keys to healthy relationships is spoken appreciation. Other kinds of appreciation (such as touch or giving a hand with a chore) are great, too, but spoken appreciation is highly valued and easy to do. We recommend a technique we call verbal valentines, which work wonders in any kind of relationship.
We give each other 10-second verbal valentines all year long. We believe it’s one of the main reasons we’re more in love now than when we met 32 years ago. Verbal valentines are not just for lovers, either. You can give them at work, to children, to other family members and to cherished friends.
Here’s how to give verbal valentines:
Step 1: Choose the recipient of your verbal valentine.
It could be your mate, a good friend, a family member or a co-worker.
Step 2: Think of something you really appreciate and value about the person.
What’s one special quality this person adds to your life? What would you really miss if this person were not in your life? Rehearse it in your mind a few times until you’ve got it honed down to the simple, heartfelt essentials. Make it a simple sentence you can say with ease in 10 seconds. For example, you could say, “I appreciate the way you love me,” and still have plenty of time in your 10 seconds to say, “and how beautiful you always look.”
Step 3: Deliver your verbal valentine!
Pick a time when your mate looks receptive and isn’t busy with another activity.
Examples of verbal valentines
1. From our own relationship:
Kathlyn: “I saw Gay sitting at his computer, lost in thought about a writing project he was working on. I came close to him and said, ‘Thank you so much for all the time you spend working on our books. I love how clear and graceful your writing is.’ He beamed all over.”
Gay: “I came up beside Kathlyn in the kitchen and said, ‘I really appreciate the way you love and care for Lucy (our cat). I’ve learned so much from seeing how you hold her and communicate with her.’ (I didn’t grow up around cats, so I wasn’t even sure how to pet one until I met Kathlyn. Now, I’ve become a devoted ‘cat-person.’)”
2. Kathlyn coaxing a verbal valentine out of a couple in our office:
Kathlyn: “Jamie, what’s one thing you really appreciate about Chris? Something you can’t imagine living without now?
Jamie: “The way Chris stays calm and cool in any kind of crisis situation.”
Kathlyn: “Great. Now tell Chris that clearly and simply.”
Jamie: (turning to look into Chris’ eyes) “You stay so calm and think so clearly under pressure. I’m so grateful to you for that.” (Her eyes mist as she says this.)
Chris: “Thank you. (Taking a deep breath) Wow!”
Happy Valentines Day!
Gay & Katie
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