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Valentine's Advice For Singles and Couples

Photo Cred: TODAY/ Nate Congleton

Hey, it's Valentine's Day and I want you to have the best Valentine's Day possible whether you are single, in a relationship or married.

I had the opportunity to appear on the Today Show and answer three questions that I pray will propel you towards better relationships so that today and every day forward can be filled with the love you desire and deserve.

"What are the three most important topics you should discuss with your partner before getting serious?"

1) Work & Money: Couples should certainly have a high level conversation about what money means to you, not just dollars and cents. Many couples don't have this critical conversation until after they are married. For instance, does money mean having never to worry again, security, status, influence, the ability to help others? Also, how will we divide the labor and still manage quality time together to have a balance of quality time, family and wealth.

2) Conflict Resolution: Friendship is the key to overcoming conflicts because it gives you a friendship base to start with but every couple will naturally experience conflicts. Research shows that most couples disagree on 2/3rds of issues due to simply being different. So, it is important to create a conflict plan (how we should discuss differences in an effective way without arguing). In fact, I advise couples to create this plan before they argue so they understand how each likes to be approached (soft and direct approach, ask for best time to talk, set rules on length of dialogue, take a break if it gets too heated, etc.)

It is also imperative that couple agree upfront that both partners should have equal power and equal compromise to keep the control, manipulation and unfairness out of the relationship.

3) Expectations: Of course, we have to talk about expectations about becoming one household and operating as one. For instance, who staying home with children, provides income, handles bills, chores, cooking meals, scheduling social events, disciplining the children, entertaining in-laws?

Also, what is the expectation for quality time, intimacy, fidelity, friends outside of marriage and demands on each spouse? Why? You can be completely in love but have completely different expectations on marriage so you want to see if it's a fit and what you can work on together before you get serious.

After the initial 'honeymoon phase' of a relationship, what are some creative ways to keep the momentum going?"

1) Establish Rituals of Connection: What we know about successful married couples is that they don't wing it. They schedule times for connection by developing rituals. Rituals can include saying goodbye before leaving the house, greeting upon return, date night, time to talk each night without the children, celebrating big goals together, reading the Bible, praying together, exercising, etc.?

It is also important to schedule novelty because relationships get boring when we do the same thing over and over again. So, stay creating and try new things to experience to keep the "awe" factor and reschedule great dates from the past.

2) Quality Time: most people get into relationships and one partner tends to get ignored. So, it is important to ask, "How and when should we spend quality time with one other?" Researchers say that couples who spend 15 minutes a day "love mapping" - mapping the way to a partners' head and heart are able to create and maintain connected conversation.

Why is this important? You want to avoid being roommates. Instead, the ultimate benefit of marriage is to know each other well enough to support one another's dreams and support each other's God-driven destinies. How cool is that? Imagine being so connected and tuned in that you can play a supportive role in helping your spouse's dreams come true. Teammate makes the team work.

3) Schedule Intimacy: I know it doesn't sound sexy, but it also means intimacy doesn't fall by the way side. Why is intimacy so important?

Did you know that 20 second hugs and 6 second kisses make spouses feel emotionally connected? Oxytocin (the cuddling hormone) is produced and helps couples to feel bonded throughout the day. is also important to have spontaneous intimacy to keep the desire, fun and excitement in the marriage.

What about folks who've experienced a breakup or perhaps were married before and want to get back out there. What is your advice on moving forward and finding love again after that?

1) Set A Timeline: Did you know that people who set a pace (time for recovery) actually recover faster than those who don't? Yes, it gives you a sense of control and allows you to develop steps for getting over a loss. It is important because without a recovery plan, you can get stuck in loss long-term. So, plan to heal, date again and even get into a relationship or married in the future. The key is to grow around the loss not to dwell in it.

2) Be Pro-Social: When it comes to dating, you have to be prosocial! You have to intentionally meet people (in person or online) in order to be seen and get dates. Don't sit at home or simply go the party and not speak. Instead, introduce yourself and be fascinating so that dates occur naturally.

3) Create a Social Calendar: Research is clear that socializing is the biggest ingredient to getting dates. So, set a social calendar in advance so you can intentionally place yourself in the places where the type of spouse you would like to meet frequents. It is also important to naturally socialize in places that are fun and let things happen naturally.

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