No matter how grand your Valentine’s Day plans, your gesture will pale in comparison to that of King Nebuchadnezzar II, the 6thcentury BC romantic who built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon for his wife. Legend has it that she was homesick for the forests and mountains of her native homeland, so he built the gardens to ease her sadness.

Romantic? Yes. Grand? Absolutely. But not the best way to for Nebuchadnezzar II to prove his love for Amytis.

According to research from the Enduring Love Research Project, to nurture a relationship, romantic or otherwise, doing small, kind things on a regular basis is what actually works.

To create lasting connection, it’s everyday kindness that counts. 

Of course, each person is different, so picking the right small thing is also important.

My husband and I found this out the hard way when our children were very young.  He stopped to buy me flowers most Fridays.  And I’m ashamed to admit, every Friday as he walked in all happy and loving with his bouquet I would think…
     …What I really need is a 15-minute walk by myself, not flowers.
…What did I do to deserve flowers?
…I can’t believe he’s giving me something that needs taking care of.
…I am such a bitch.
…What the hell is wrong with me?

And then I would spend the rest of the evening locked in an internal argument with myself trying to make sense of my response.

Eventually I discovered a simple way to help me figure out what kind of gestures I (and others) wanted. This insight was the secret weapon to helping me figure out my life-long struggle with unappreciative reactions when receiving a gift and luckily came before I totally destroyed my marriage.

After reading the book The 5 Love Languages and taking the free, quiz I realized that gifts aren’t really my thing. For me to feel loved, words of affirmation and acts of service work way better.  I also realized that there are different ways in which we feel appreciated which means we are often giving and receiving from a different perspective then the one we are trying to relate to and thus, not connecting emotionally.

This insight gave me the knowledge I needed to not only be more appreciative but to also talk about what I needed and see what others needed in a healthy way.

I also realized that I didn’t need to wait for someone else to read my mind and give me what I wanted.  I could give it to myself.

If you struggle with giving and receiving and wonder why, do what my younger self wasn’t able to. First, take the quiz. It will take the mystery out of what you and the people in your life really want, expect and need to feel appreciated.

Then put it to action. For your loved ones, friends and colleagues.

And for yourself.

Learning your love language, encouraging those around you to do the same and then following up with little kindnesses is the way I’ve found to create enduring connection, both with those around me and myself.

No grand gestures or special day of the year needed.