Do you hate Vale#32 My Lover My Best Friend.001ntine’s Day or love it?

It seems there are more and more voices saying Valentine’s Day was invented by greeting card companies and florists and has lost its meaning.

I disagree because I think Valentine’s Day prompts us to take action and show our love.

It’s not just about passion; it’s about the give and take of friendship.

The Valentine’s Day I remember the most was in 1995 when my husband Dennis and I decided to stay away from crowded restaurants where the reservations were never on time and the service was slow. We decided to cook a Valentine’s meal at home together. This was special because even though Dennis knows how to cook (he once did a complete Thanksgiving dinner using a critical path chart), he doesn’t do it often. Probably because I enjoy cooking and he enjoys the results.

We divided up the menu. Dennis picked the main dish, and I did the salad and dessert. We kept our dishes secret until V-Day. As Dennis prepared his Raspberry Chicken with Pasta, and I made a Caesar Salad and chilled Grand Marnier Soufflé, we started talking about how much our lives had changed since he proposed to me on Valentine’s Day in 1978.

In 1995 we had one huge problem hanging over us. The last four years we were embroiled in a trademark infringement suit against the Woolworth Corporation for copying one of our inventions called Sneaker Balls. We won the jury trial and the next year we were awarded damages, but Woolworth filed an appeal, and we knew they had the deep pockets to drag this on for years. We had the burden of keeping our lawyers on retainer for as long as the case kept going.

 While Dennis sautéed chicken, and I beat eggs for the soufflé, we talked about the drain on our energy and resources from this case. Suddenly we both stopped what we were doing and said, “Let’s settle!” at exactly the same time. We held one another for a long time and felt the tension and battle fatigue leave us. Time seemed to stop as we enjoyed our candlelit dinner and felt our universe balance once again. Eventually we settled the case, gave most of our award to our lawyers, and never looked back.


 That moment taught me the power of friendship in love. Every day we have opportunities to either align with one another or not. It’s a balancing act.

 The more you have in common, the closer you will feel. This may sound obvious, but it is easy to drift apart if you aren’t paying attention. You can become closer by increasing alignment and by making trade-offs that will help you appreciate your partner’s differences.

 To paraphrase an old saying, “If you want to have a friend, first become a friend.” To become best friends you have to show your partner how important their friendship is to you.

 Kahlil Gibran wrote, “Among intelligent people the surest basis for marriage is friendship—the sharing of real interests—the ability to fight out ideas together and understand each other’s thoughts and dreams.”

 Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to go deeper than a box of candy or a bouquet of roses. It gets to the heart of your relationship.

A red rose next to a heart shaped box of chocolates

So now it’s your turn. Here are ten questions that can help you see if you are attuned to your partner or not. You might have your partner answer them, too, so you can compare your results. Think about how often each behavior occurs.  Choose and write a number from the scale below that best describes your response to each statement.



                      1                          2                          3                           4                      5

                Never           Seldom              Sometimes             Often            Always                                                                                     

  1. When something exciting happens, my partner is the first person I want to call to tell the news.
  2. My partner encourages me to pursue my own interests outside our shared interests.
  3. I encourage my partner to pursue his/her own interests outside our shared interests.
  4. I spend more time on our aligned interests than we do on our independent interests.
  5. I check in with my partner at least once a week by asking supportive questions about his/her hobbies or other interests.
  6. I try to spend extra time with my partner when I see he or she is stressed and could use more shared time.
  7. We have started at least one interest together that neither one of us ever tried before.
  8. I am good about changing my schedule when my partner needs extra time to pursue an individual interest.
  9. I always try to accept any invitation from my partner to spend time together.
  10.  We have a plan for sharing housework, paying bills and sharing other duties that come with the business side of the relationship.

Total Score Range – 10 to 50 points

What the Points Mean

10 – 20    It looks like you need an alignment to get your relationship back in balance.  Do you think you have always been apart in this area, or have you changed in alignment in the last few months?  Are you developing more separate interests?  If so, try to reconnect in interests you used to share or find something for both of you to start learning or doing together to get back your alignment.  Set a personal goal for how much time you will devote to sharing interests with your partner each week.  If you aren’t sure what your partner’s current interests are, have a conversation and find out or just spend time observing what your partner enjoys when not working at the office or at home.

21 – 30 You have some alignment, but it doesn’t seem that it has focus in your relationship.  Start with your lowest scores and create opportunities to improve in those areas.  Do you need more time together? Do you need to initiate more conversations about your partner’s interests?  Do you need more strategies for your household management plan?  Do you seem to only talk about work and never have fun together?  Figure out what can change, and start demonstrating that you want to be more aligned with your partner.

31 – 40 You and your partner are still connected, but there is room for improvement.  If your individual scores seem to run in the 3 to 4 range, then you have created habits that keep you aligned. You just need to devote more time to deepen your alignment.   If your scores vary with some numbers being low and some numbers ranging high, then the areas for improvement are easy to see.  Set a weekly goal for improving how you are connecting with one another.  Plan some dates that include exploring new interests together.  Take turns planning dates so each of you has a chance to share your interests with one another.  Plan some surprises for each other.

41 – 50  Congratulations!  You have remained focused on your partner’s interests and have stayed connected in your mutual interests.  If this survey helped you see an area that could use some improvement, set a goal for improving in that area.  Your partner may have some suggestions for aligning even more.

We Have a Card for That

We created a video greeting card called “My Lover, My Best Friend” that highlights the importance of friendship in your relationship. You can click here to view it.

Because we started out our post by making you hungry, we decided it’s only fair to give you the recipes for the two signature dishes from our Valentine’s dinner.

Raspberry Chicken from The Silver Palate Cookbook

4 boneless and skinless chicken breast fillets

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup finely chopped yellow onion

4 tablespoons raspberry vinegar

¼ cup chicken broth

¼ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon canned crushed tomatoes or 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste

Fresh raspberries (16 to 20)

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Increase the heat and add chicken fillets; cook about 3 minutes per side or until they are lightly colored. Remove from the skillet and reserve on a plate.

Add the onion to the fat in the pan and cook, covered, over low heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Add the vinegar. Increase the heat and cook, uncovered; stir occasionally until the vinegar is reduced to a syrupy spoonful. Whisk in the chicken stock, heavy cream and crushed tomatoes (or tomato paste). Simmer for one minute.

Place the chicken back in the skillet and simmer the fillets gently in the sauce. Baste often until they are just done. The sauce should reduce and thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook.

Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and arrange on a plate. Add the raspberries to the sauce in the skillet and cook over low heat for 1 minute. Do not stir the berries with a spoon, so they stay whole. Just gently shake the skillet to swirl them in the sauce. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Note: You can prepare a bed of your favorite pasta to receive the Raspberry Chicken or serve the pasta as a side dish.

Cold Grand Marnier Soufflé from the Fandango Restaurant in Monterrey, CA

                                                                (adapted to fill 6 to 8 ramekins)                                                                      souffle

½ quart whipping cream

6 egg yolks

½ pound granulated sugar

¼ cup Grand Marnier

Whip the cream until it is stiff using an electric mixer. Set aside.

Separate the eggs and beat 6 egg yolks, 4 ounces of sugar and 1/8 cup Grand Marnier in a separate bowl until fluffy. Then add the whipping cream and whisk lightly. Using the mixer, beat the 6 egg whites and remaining sugar until it’s stiff.

Add the egg-white mixture and fold together lightly.

To prepare the individual soufflé dishes/ramekins, wrap with aluminum foil or form a waxed paper collar around the rim of each dish about 2 inches high. Divide the filling among the 6 or 8 dishes. Freeze for at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, remove the collars, top with fresh raspberries and top with a dusting of sugar.

We wish you a life filled with love and friendship.

Bon Appetit!

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4 thoughts on “10 Questions To Reveal If Your Lover Is Your Best Friend

    • February 14, 2015 at 6:46 PM

      Thanks, Joe! You and Joan are inspiration to us with your 51 years together. Happy Valentine’s Day to both of you!

  • April 2, 2015 at 1:38 PM

    Mary Lou,
    That’s a lovely tale! And there’s the scary part, too, a big company ripping you off, how awful! I’m glad you came to an emotional resolution, if not a financial one.

    You’re right, having shared warm experiences is more valuable than simply adding to the holiday spending arms race. ;)

    We are pretty similar to you in the friendship sense – we were just talking about that the other day. We cook together, even wash dishes together. So intuitively, I’d say we’re about 51 or 52 on the scale.

    Now you’ve got me thinking of raspberries and playing a fandango on my guitar.

    Best, Dave

    • May 16, 2015 at 8:59 PM

      Hi, Dave!
      I am so sorry I am late in responding. For some reason, I didn’t see your comment come through until now. I so appreciate your comments and our shared values. Glad you have a life that is focused on making even the little things count. Would love to see a photo of you playing a fandango! Enjoy those raspberries, too!


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