Few things are more enticing than chocolate — especially around Valentine's Day. But the sweetness fades and the residual calories remain. Give your sweetheart something different this year. What's better than chocolate you ask? How about something from the heart.Be your spouse's chocolate substituteA friend recently asked me to write "a prescription" for her husband to provide more of a certain loving behavior to help her stop eating chocolate so much. I promptly wrote out the prescription on a napkin and handed it to her with a smile. The husband later told me he was happy to oblige. I started calling him her chocolate substitute!If we are honest with ourselves we can probably all think of something that we know our spouse would love to receive. We may need to sit and ponder for a moment, but I imagine there's something you know you can do to strengthen your connection with your spouse. These from-the-heart gifts may require you to stretch a bit, but that's what real love is all about anyway.Gift ideasTo give a gift from the heart — one that's better than chocolates  — requires thinking outside of the box. This is no one-size-fits-all Valentine's Day gift. What can you do to be your spouse's chocolate substitute? Maybe your gift would be:
  • Getting the babysitter for date night.
  • Holding his hand more often.
  • Tackling the garage that he's been wanting to de-clutter.
  • Initiating intimate time together.
  • Writing a heart-felt letter of adoration and appreciation.
  • Kissing him/her more often when he/she gets home from work.
  • Sharing a dream you have for the future.
  • Fixing the sink that's been broken for weeks.
  • Packing his lunch for him.
  • Responding to your spouse on a heated topic with patience and a desire

to see their perspective instead of resorting to anger or the silent

  • Saying the words, "I love you," even if it's hard for you.
Sometimes the best gifts from the heart are those that may be a little bit difficult for us to give. The sacrifice and stretching the gift requires makes the gift that much more meaningful. And don't forget to include a written or verbal note to express your love and appreciation along with your chosen gift, just so no connection is lost between the gift and it's meaning.Make your love listsAs Valentine's Day nears I'd love to see couples sit down together and create a list of the top ten things that make them feel loved, so that each of them knows the specific keys to each other's hearts. Why not make it as easy as possible for each other to be successful at love.I remember one woman in doing some homework for a class I had taught asked her husband to tell her some things she could do to be a more loving wife. After he did so, she confessed that she had never known the importance of some of the things he suggested. She wished she had asked him that question many years earlier in their marriage.This year commit to becoming an expert at loving your spouse in the way they need to be loved. These gifts from the heart can help you become the chocolate substitute in your loved-one's life.