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COMMUNITY CORNER - Valentine’s Day reminds us about importance of healthy relationships

By Col. Andrew Cole | GARRISON COMMANDER | March 21, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours. Whether spending the day with a significant other, child, parent, friends, coworkers or your Army family, I hope you are spending your day with the ones you love.

Valentine’s Day is a unique holiday with a storied past. It is the second most popular card-buying day, following Christmas, according to the Greeting Card Association, which estimates people will buy 145 million greeting cards this Valentine’s Day.

There are many myths and legends surrounding the history of Valentine’s Day. The holiday’s roots are in the ancient Roman festival, Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually Feb. 15. Pope Gelasius I recast the festival as a Christian feast day around 496, declaring Feb. 14 as St. Valentine’s Day.

Now, which Saint Valentine the holiday is referring to is unknown. Throughout the centuries, several Saint Valentine’s have been credited with the holiday’s name. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints by the name Saint Valentine. One was a priest in Rome, another was a bishop in Terni and a third Saint Valentine met his end in Africa. All three Saint Valentines were said to have been martyred Feb. 14.

In another popular account, Saint Valentine of Rome was imprisoned for performing weddings for Soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, this particular Saint Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius, and, before his execution, he was said to have written her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell. But, there are many variations to that story as well.

Because of the uncertainty of Saint Valentine, the Roman Catholic Church dropped Saint Valentine from the calendar of official, worldwide Catholic feasts in 1969.

Another conventional belief accepted in England and France during the Middle Ages was that on Feb. 14, birds began to choose their mates, hence why Valentine’s Day tends to be geared to love.

Regardless of which account you believe, Valentine’s Day reminds us about the importance of maintaining healthy relationships with those we love.

Great relationships don’t just happen – they are forged with work and determination.

According to MilitaryOneSource, resiliency is a key to meeting the challenges of stresses in our lives and maintaining healthy family relationships. Resilience is the ability to grow and thrive in the face of challenges and bounce back from adversity. There are several ways a family can be resilient.

In Strengthening Family Resilience, (The Guilford Press, 2006), resilience specialist Dr. Froma Walsh identifies nine characteristics that resilient families share. They include:

• Finding meaning in adversity – Resilient families view crises as shared challenges that together they can understand, manage and make meaningful in some way.

• Positive outlook – Resilient families have an optimistic, rather than pessimistic view of life.

• Transcendence and spirituality – Resilient families have beliefs and values that offer meaning, purpose and connection beyond their personal lives and troubles.

• Flexibility – Resilient families adapt to change.

• Connectedness – Resilient families pull together during times of crisis.

• Social and economic resources – When they can’t solve problems on their own, resilient families reach out for help by turning to extended family, friends, neighbors, community services and/or counseling.

• Open emotional sharing – Resilient families accept and encourage a wide range of emotional expression – joy, sadness, fear, silliness – in adults and children. Family members take responsibility for their own feelings and accept others who have different feelings.

• Clarity – Resilient families practice clear, consistent and honest communication.

• Collaborative problem solving – Resilient families manage their difficulties by working together to understand a problem and identify ways to solve it.

If you’re currently coping with a stressful situation, suffering from a loss or dealing with a crisis of any kind, there are things you can start doing right now to strengthen your own resilience and model resilience for your children, according to Military OneSource. The American Psychological Association in its publication, “The Road to Resilience,” recommended 10 ways to become more resilient when dealing with stress or adversity:

• Make connections

• Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems

• Accept that change is part of living

• Move toward your goals

• Take decisive actions

• Look for opportunities for self-discovery

• Nurture a positive view of self

• Keep things in perspective

• Maintain hopeful outlooks

• Take care of yourself

For more information and tips about maintaining healthy relationships, visit

Additionally, Fort Riley offers numerous services to help individuals and families reduce stress, become more resilient and maintain healthy relationships.

Army Community Service offers several programs for families, including the Financial Readiness Program, Exceptional Family Member Program, New Parent Support Program, Hearts Apart, along other services, as well as military life consultants who can provide confidential counseling to individuals or families. ACS can be reached at 785-239-9435. Additional counseling resources can be found through Behavioral Health, 785-239-7060, or by calling the Family Life chaplain, Chap. (Maj.) Timothy Reynolds, at 785-239-3436.

Additionally, for those looking to reduce and manage stress, the Army Wellness Center within the Victory Center offers a stress management class. The center can be reached by calling 785-239-WELL (9355).

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Tag Family   Tag Relationships   Tag Resilience