Note to readers: This is my last week on sabbattical and the last favorite article from the past. I'll be back next week with a new article.
You've had a love fix before. Love fixes are those wonderful experiences in life when you give or get a good hearty dose of love. Love fixes involve giving a gift of self sometimes just when it's needed the very most.As you remember special love fixes you've had, you may even choke up or get teary-eyed. Some of them may be among your most priceless memories.
Speaking of memorable love fixes, one person says: "Probably the nicest love fix I can recall was when our grown daughter sent her father and me roses on her birthday and thanked us for the gift of life."
Says another: "One very touching love fix was when I was experiencing extreme stress in my life. My wife and family arranged to sweep me away from my office and take me on a picnic. I was overwhelmed by the investment of time and concern they showed - as busy as they were, they still extended themselves for me."
Still another person relates: "A love fix I'll never forget was when my mother-in-law took me and my sisters-in-law to lunch and gave us each an envelope with $120 in it.
"Then she took us to a mall and told us we had to spend that money on ourselves in the next several hours or give it back."
Love fixes come in assorted forms and shapes. Say a number of people, a love fix is when:
- Flowers arrive for me at work for no particular reason.
- My wife prepares a special meal or sews something for me.
- My husband looks at me and sees Kim, the woman he married - not the mother, the cook, the Scout leader or the chauffeur.
- Someone who knows me well and has seen the prog-ress I've made says, "You've come a long way, baby."
- My husband urges me strongly to go out of town with him or kisses me voluntarily when I'm in my worst nightgown.
- A friend calls and reads me a poem she knows I'll really enjoy.
- Someone gives me a compliment, a wink, a smile, a nod or a hand squeeze.
- My husband keeps the kids quiet when I'm taking a nap.
- My wife brags about me within earshot.
Love fixes have several special characteristics.
They're almost always unexpected: "On Christmas or your birthday, you semi expect presents," observes one woman.
"But what makes a love fix so wonderful is that it is such a surprise. I'll never forget, for instance, how delighted I was when my husband sent me a card in the mail and he wasn't even out of town."
Love fixes are also personalized to the needs of the receiver: "My 60-year-old grandmother just got an associate degree in psychology and I'm going to get her a subscription to Psychology Today," reports one woman. Reports another: "My husband loves Albert Einstein and I finally found a big poster of Albert for him."
Love fixes may take time: "My children get out of school on Friday afternoons," says one woman. "We call Friday our family day. Sometimes we just go `park-hopping' - we drive from one park to another and the kids have 10 minutes to play on the equipment. Or we'll go to a pet store, or museum or library. Since we obtained an aquarium for Christmas we now buy fish every Friday."
Love fixes sometimes come at a time of quiet desperation or of terrible trauma: "I was so sick and lonely on my birthday and I just couldn't tell anyone," says one woman. "Several friends dropped by and I was moved to tears when they just took over for an hour. One made a pot of soup and the other straighted the house and changed the baby."
Another woman relates: "My world turned upside down when my son-in-law was killed and my daughter was in the hospital for three weeks. I didn't realize until weeks after the funeral that several neighbors had canned the basket of pears sitting in my kitchen."
People who give love fixes emphasize different aspects of the gift-giving. Some say, for example: "I like giving bold gifts, like when I know a friend is having a bad time, I'll announce, "I'm coming over and taking you to lunch. I know you need that."
"I love to give books because they continue to influence a person's life long after you've given the book."
"I like to do things for people who really can use something. I've learned there are people out there who really need a hug or an encouraging word."
"I like to give gifts I make - that involve a special part of me."
And what about kids? Adults delight in giving love fixes to them and kids delight in receiving. Kids like things such as good back rubs, little surprises or notes on their beds, a "you can choose" evening, a trip to an ice cream store, or listening to a special story being read out loud.
Gifts of time seem to be among those most kids and adults crave. But no matter what kind of gift - or love fix - people give or receive, it seems that personal attention matters the most. One teenager sums it all up: "What I really like is the thought that counts part of a gift, favor or action."
- Dr. Larsen is a therapist practicing in Salt Lake City.