by Dr. Patty Stephens

As Valentine’s Day is here, we all are bombarded by images of chocolates, flowers and candlelit dinners. These false images of romance can leave us feeling empty. So, I encourage you to turn your back on the commercialization of this holiday. Instead, turn your focus to all of the significant relationships in your life.

The dictionary defines a relationship as “the way in which two or more people are connected.” Who is connected to your life? And, how are you nurturing that relationship to grow? Because I love to garden and spend time outdoors, I often think of relationships in the way I think of an inviting garden. They need attention, water, fertilizer and weeding. How are you tending to the relationship “gardens” in your life?

Lack of attention to relationships is one of the most common challenges in therapy. We tend to start our relationship in a joyful, almost euphoric state, not realizing that they , like most worthwhile endeavors, need actual work to grow and develop. Building and maintaining our connections requires learning and meaningful acts….and by meaningful, I don’t mean something that bends your wallet or requires extensive planning. Remember how much a simple expression has brightened your day. What are you doing daily to show the people in your life you care about them (in terms of what matters to them)?

How about nourishment? Are your relationships being fed with the proper amounts of compassionate listening, heartfelt check-ins, forgiveness, and gratitude or learning to be a better giver of love? Or, are you leaving it to survive on its own in the harsh elements? I think of our current drought in Central Texas, how I sadly watched our land crack under those harsh elements.

The societal landscape (greed, selfishness, injustice, too many “others” ) further weakens our connections, and, inhibits our ability to sustain lasting peace, particularly in the tough times.

Are you weeding your relationships of things that will block their growth? These blocks or “weeds” come in all forms and can include jealousy, pride, over-scheduling, lack of communication, not showing our intentions and emotions loving way. They are whatever stands in the way of us making heart-felt connections. And if the relationship is not working, are you addressing it, and if necessary weeding it out of your garden?

A true love respects and enables others to discover and use their potential for a full life. It extends to those we love, our community, and our environment. How will you use your love to build your legacy?

Dr. Patty Stephens is a St. Andrew’s member and has an interesting and informative blog connected to her website. Her banner reads: “Discover your true needs. Connect with others to create success. Leverage your short time on this earth. Take the first step towards becoming more of who you can be.” Patty can be reached at

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: