Valentine’s Day (Weekend)has come and gone. And the rush of flowers, cards, candy, dinners, and dates with it. Harold and I don’t really do Valentine’s Day. One year we spent our evening enjoying the  Kentucky Opera’s presentation of the timeless classic Romeo and Juliet. Followed by the drive through at Wendy’s. For us, it was a good time.

But, for many, that would not have been an ideal Valentine’s Day.  February 14th has become a major economic driver for retailers across the United States. An about.com 2013 report on Valentine retail spending shows that even amongst economic downturns, American consumers spend big bucks on Valentine’s Day.

Here are some Valentine’s Day statistics I found interesting from StatisticBrain.com:
– Amount the average consumer spends on Valentine’s Day: $116.21
– Average number of roses produced for Valentine’s Day: 198 million
– Percent of Valentine’s Day cards bought by women: 85%
– Percent of flowers bought by men: 73%
– Percent of women who would end their relationship if they didn’t get a gift for Valentines day: 53%

More than half of the women surveyed would end a relationship if their Valentine’s Day ended without a gift. It makes me wonder what these women consider a happy relationship. I imagine that if the gift didn’t measure up to the expectation some women would still be unhappy.

So I want to offer five simple steps to have a great relationship at Valentine’s Day and all year around.

1. Know what you want from the relationship.

Be sure that you truly understand what you are seeking from the relationship you’re in. I’ll bet the gift was not the real thing those women who were willing to end their relationships were seeking. The gift, or the outward display of affection and appreciation, represents something much deeper that these women desire.

2. Know who you are.

You are a complex being. You can’t sum up your being with a wish list of items you’d like to receive. Understanding who you are – how you think, how you behave, how you communicate, what you like, and what you do not like – will allow you to express how you desire to be treated by others.

I am allergic to nearly all flowers, grasses and trees. I know this about me, so as much as possible I try to let others know that so they don’t think to give me flowers. Don’t be afraid to express to your mate who you are – in a kind and non-aggressive or condemning manner. This way, you can reduce those uncomfortable moments and happily choose to stay in the relationship.

3. Know who the other person is.

The other person is just as complex as you are. Understanding who the other person is – how they think, behave, communicate, what they like, and what they do not like – will help you begin to understand why they treat you the way that they do. This can help you both engage in communication and interaction better.

My husband is a giver. Early in our marriage, he gave, and he gave BIG. It came to be the expectation that he would be giving me jewelry at almost every opportunity for gift giving that came along. Receiving gifts is not a way in which I truly receive love, but I know how much it means to him. So much so, that I forwent the chance to take him to the Dominican Republic for our 10th anniversary so he could upgrade my wedding ring. There is really no way to lose in that situation, is there? 🙂

4. Understand your responsibility to the relationship.

This ties directly back to point number 1 and knowing what you want from the relationship. Once you have settled on what you want, you can assess your responsibility to the relationship. If you’re in it for the long haul, you’ll have a much different approach than if you’re just having fun and hanging out. If it’s early in the relationship you ought to give, and expect, much less than if you’ve been in a relationship for some time. Sometimes we give more effort than our responsibility to the relationship calls for us to do. Other times we don’t give enough. Measuring your efforts with the level of commitment you both have made will help you have a more blissful experience.

5. Identify the barriers to your bliss.

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary define bliss as complete happiness. Is there an obstacle to your happiness with this person? Is it obvious and difficult to address? Is it something you haven’t identified yet because you are learning who you are or who they are? Or maybe you know the obstacles and have difficulty addressing them with the other person. Once you know the obstacles, using what you know about yourself and the other person will help you face them and begin to overcome them.