Heart Awareness Month and Valentine’s Day are both celebrated in February. I don’t know whether that was planned, but the physical heart appears to be associated with our ability to give and receive love. We say: “My heart is overflowing with love for him/her” or “my heart is breaking for the loss of him/her.” Scientists are demonstrating the connection between love, healing and longevity. Loving relationships go hand in hand with heart health and happiness.

In my golden years, I realize the importance of special love relationships in the here and now because so many people I loved are no longer with me in the physical world. One evening before falling asleep, I said to my husband; “We need to focus on sharing our love often because our time together is coming to an end.” It wasn’t a morbid conversation, it was a conversation of awareness and deep gratitude for what we have shared together and will continue to share until our relationship is over in the physical world. We held hands as we fell asleep and made a commitment to appreciate each other every day.

The death of someone I know usually reminds me to make the most of my special relationships because I do not know when a relationship will change or be taken from me: A friend just lost her son to an accident; another friend’s husband has cancer and is fighting for his life; my daughter travels the world in this age of terrorists; my life feels fragile with my current heart challenge, and so it goes for me and you.

Whether you are over 60 or raising a family, take the time to cherish your special relationships. Here are a few suggestions that will intensify the love in your life:

Connect in a mindful and meaningful way – In the play, Our Town, Emily dies in childbirth and is taken back to observe the day-to-day activities of her twelfth birthday. Her words have much to tell us about relationships: “Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me.” Make every effort to “see” those you love.

Do special activities together – One of my few regrets is that I did not play with my children more. My focus was on having “house beautiful.” Make your loved ones a priority for your time, attention and energy. Ask what gives another joy, and do your best to do it without comprising yourself. With life partners, find out how the other feels nurtured and do some of the things that you can do.

Speak in ways that express love – Say “I love you” often by expressing yourself through words, writing, music, touch and whatever way your loved one values. When I hang up from phone calls with my children, I usually say “I love you.” If that is difficult to do because of some conflict or misunderstanding you have with someone, think it. At some level you love that person even though you dislike what they are doing.

Develop effective conflict resolution skills – Know what you must have, what is negotiable and what you can put aside because it is the “small stuff.” Know the difference so you can agree to disagree in a relationship when that is an appropriate step to take. You can set a limit with another and stay in love with them. And when the love connection seems to break and it is important to you, reconnect as soon as possible.

The ability to give and receive love is intimately connected to heart health. Research demonstrates how feelings of love release “happy” chemicals within the body. Cherish your love relationships, acknowledge them often and find creative ways to express your love. Your love connections will remain strong in life and in death.

Author's Bio: 

Sandra Miniere, M.Ed., is life and wellness coach, certified Emotional Freedom Techniques practitioner, Amazon best-selling author and speaker. She is a former holistic mental health counselor and has been helping people transform themselves and their lives for over 30 years. In her book, A Lighter Side to Cancer - From Wake-up Call to Radiant Wellness, she shares her uplifting and empowering adventure through breast cancer and highlights healing strategies for the mind, body and soul. Her website is www.IntegrativeWellnessExpert.com.