For many couples, Valentine’s Day is not taken very seriously and is often viewed as an overly commercialised and cynical event designed to make us spend money that we can ill afford.

This, perhaps understandable reaction fails, however, to make the most of an opportunity for couples to take a little time to remember that relationships are in reality very important, especially the relationship with their partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife.

Relationships Scotland, which provides counselling and mediation across the country, encourages couples to make the most of each and every opportunity to affirm and strengthen their relationships. Valentine’s Day offers the chance to do something – anything – special that you know your partner will appreciate. This doesn’t have to be expensive – breakfast in bed, playing a song that is special to you both, going for walk together to somewhere that means a lot to you both. The more personal the ­better.

But what about those who may be single and feel that there is little likelihood of romance any time soon? Or those who have recently ended a relationship? How are they to navigate the explosion of love hearts and busy restaurants this coming Wednesday? A key point to remember is that the presence or absence of a close romantic relationship does not define a person. How people feel about themselves will guide how they approach all the challenges in life, not just on Valentine’s Day.

Confidence and a high self-regard are not the sole preserve of people in happy relationships, and many ­people who come to Relationships Scotland claim that they develop and mature far more during their times of ­being single than during times of being in a relationship. In addition, most people will have many other special relationships in their lives – with their friends, parents, ­siblings, cousins and colleagues at work.

For couples experiencing relationship difficulties, Valentine’s Day may simply be another painful reminder of what is lacking in their lives. Loneliness can be felt far more acutely when it happens alongside someone else and the experience of being in an unhappy or unfulfilling relationship can be exceptionally difficult. Many couples in difficulty will turn to agencies such as Relationships Scotland for support. Counselling can prove to be tremendously helpful and can help couples to understand one another better and to remember what attracted them to each other in the first place. It can also be helpful for people who are single, as it can help them understand their previous relationships better and be better prepared for the next one.

Rather than being a depressing time, Valentine’s Day could, for some couples, be the motivation to try to work towards a better relationship with their partner. Counsellors can help couples explore areas that they find difficult to talk about, and to find ways to navigate entrenched issues such as affairs, sexual problems and constant arguing. Many people who are now separated hold significant regrets that they did not try harder whilst in their relationship, and counsellors would encourage couples to seek help before their problems become insurmountable.

Strong relationships are the foundation of our lives, whether that be with our partners, wives, husbands, family, friends or work colleagues. They are to be cherished and given support when needed.

For many people in Scotland this year, Valentine’s Day will be exactly what they would wish for: a special time spent with the person they love. For others it can be the catalyst to remember the importance of other people in their lives or to begin the process of addressing relationship difficulties. Either way, it could be a day to remember.

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