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Free Valentine's Day gifts to give your sweetheart!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here are some suggestions for the best gifts to give to your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day.
The gift of true listening.... easier said than done. How many of us think we are listening but really are only waiting for the speaker to be done so we get our chance? So often, we are focused on our response, our explanation or even our defense. When we do this, we are not really present to our partner, not truly listening. For Valentine’s Day, try to give the gift of listening... of being completely focused on what your partner is saying, not thinking of your comeback, not thinking of what you need or about other things while they talk. When they are completely finished, stay focused on them and ask questions about what they said out of genuine curiousity and interest. Especially for long term couples, we often think we already know our partner, they are not going to say anything new, and not surprise us by revealing a part of themselves we don’t already know. But in truly listening, we may just hear something we have never heard before: something that surprises and intrigues us; something that ignites that spark we first felt we we were falling in love with this person. Listening... guaranteed to create a closer connection to your sweetie. And maybe you will even decide it was such a delightful gift, you will give it every day of the year. 
The gift of attunement... related to true listening. When was the last time you paid attention to your partner... I mean REALLY paid attention? This takes keen observation, being aware, stepping outside of ourselves and our own thoughts. It requires, as with true listening, interest and curiosity. It requires us to pay attention with open eyes, ears, mind and heart. It requires us to not assume we already know. At the beginning of the day, do you attempt to connect and understand how your partner is doing? Do you connect throughout the day and show that their well being is a priority to you? At the end of the day, do you ask with open eyes, ears, mind and heart “how are you”? Not the way we all get asked in the local coffee shop (“How is your day going?”), but in the way that only you can ask the person you truly love and care about. 
The gift of authenticity. This may be the most challenging one of all. It is a multi-layered gift. It also is more of a process, so maybe committing to starting this on Valentine’s Day this year, and continuing on indefinitely.  Allowing ourselves to be truly known is something so many of us want. We want to be understood, to know that our partner “gets us”. We want to know that in all the world we have one person we can be truly ourselves with. In order to do this we must show all parts of ourselves...the light and positive and the dark and negative. As human beings we all have these different parts, but so many of us are afraid to step into our authentic selves and embrace those parts. We are afraid to be vulnerable and let someone else see those parts. However, the paradox is, unless we are willing to be vulnerable, unless we take the chance to reveal our true selves, others will not ever truly know us. The more we hide parts of ourselves, the more we cut ourselves off from true connection. So, give your relationship the best gift you can this Valentine’s Day and take a risk... be vulnerable and allow yourself to be truly seen, known and understood by your partner. Your partner will thank you...
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!
Jane Ryan is a couple therapist in Gig Harbor. To learn more about her practice go to www.wellspringgigharbor.com

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