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Love on the rocks

How do you deal with Valentine’s Day when your relationship is far from a bed of roses? Ask counsellor Dana Scicluna Azar, whose specialty is sex therapy.

With Valentine’s around the corner, many couples will start feeling the pressure to find the best and most romantic way to celebrate this day of the year.

Nothing can be more stressful for an unhappy couple than Valentine’s Day

Lots of expectations come with Valentine’s Day: the gifts, the flowers, the dinner, the romance and the need for everything to be perfect. We’re talking about couples who are getting along here, and although everyone goes through rough patches at times, nothing can be more stressful for an unhappy couple than Valentine’s Day.

Typically, for a couple who is not getting along, February 14 can come with a lot of stress, as they will tend to believe the hype that everyone around them is enjoying a lot of romance, passion and love on Valentine’s Day. So what is the best way to deal with this date when your relationship isn’t going too well?

Valentine’s Day could be an incentive to have a look at your relationship again and to try to work through the trouble you are experiencing. One of the first things you can do is open the channels of communication and take a look at your own responsibility in the relationship. Think of a recurrent issue you have been having and really look at your part in it, apologising to your partner by being specific.

Be sincere in your apology. For example, you may need to say: “I realise that I’ve been going out every night after work with my friends; you told me that you feel lonely and neglected when I do that, and I apologise for upsetting you.”

The next step would be to offer a suggestion on how to improve that situation; it’s one thing to apologise for it, but it’s quite another to do something about it, and this is something you can both discuss together open-mindedly.

In troubled relationships, it is sometimes easy to get stuck in a negative cycle, where you each blame the other for what is happening. But it is very important to remember that when one of you accepts responsibility for his or her part, the other will be more likely to do the same. So why not take this opportunity with Valentine’s Day around the corner and start the process yourself.

Another thing you could try for Valentine’s Day is to recreate that first date, or the time you said you loved each other. It has been shown that couples who can share happy memories from early on are more content. It is helpful and healing to create something that will generate conversations of a happier time.

Another way is to give something meaningful like a CD with your favourite song, or a book you both love, or even a poem your partner might have written you once.

Finally, it could also be healing to think of three things that made you fall in love with your partner and write them down in your Valentine’s Day card to remind you and your better half that your relationship is worth saving.

Dana Scicluna Azar is a qualified counsellor and a member of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy, currently specialising in relationship and sex therapy. [email protected]

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