Valentine’s Day 2019 has been and gone and no doubt greetings card sellers, restaurant owners and florists made lots of money. After the event I wondered if any of the people who write the wording for Valentine’s Day cards googled the phrase “love quotes”. In the run-up to the big day I did exactly that and noted that Page 1 alone revealed several hundred quotes or variants on quotes. This was without searching using suggested additional wording such as “him”, “her”, “Hindi” or “images”. None of the many quotes that I briefly scanned struck me either as meaningful or profound although for some, love really is, or more correctly, was “all around”.

Others who may have been in more reflective mood may have empathised with “Love hurts” or agreed that “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”. For some, particularly for those who are unhappy with their family relationships, the appropriate phrase for Valentine’s Day 2019 may have been “crunch time”. I prefer to take a slightly more sanguine view of matters. February 14th doesn’t have to be about eternal love, consumerism or failed relationships. The Valentine’s Day concept could and should also be about reconciliation and moving forward whether the relationship in question ultimately survives or not. Rather than being put off by consumerist dictats and in many cases the romantic and invariably expensive slush that goes with it, perhaps those with family related issues to address such as divorce, separation, an inheritance or family business issue, could use the spirit of the day more constructively.

It may be that an honest face-to-face discussion will prove to be enough. However, particularly in circumstances where the parties are not sure about what they themselves want, a cost-effective alternative to a pricey meal might well be a couple of sessions with a neutral and facilitative family mediator. Mediators such as those who are part of the specialist ASM PLUS team which handles all aspects of family mediation do not direct or advise their clients. What they do is reflect and assist the individual parties in working through their own concerns so that they can ascertain for themselves what they want and importantly how they can reconcile with one another. A couple of sessions may be enough and even though those involved may not enjoy the long-lasting happy ending that Valentine’s Day commercialism aspires to, they may find that they are looking forward rather than looking back and that they have saved themselves a considerable amount of time, trouble and emotional turmoil.

Rather than finish with a cheesy “love quote”, with a nod to the immortal wording included in the advertising jargon used in the past by a well-known listings publication, I emphasise that family mediation is not just about “blocked drains”. Rather, it is a constructive, forward thinking process that gets results and brings out the best in difficult situations.

May I suggest that those who are suitably inspired by this short blog do not wait until February 14th next year. ASM PLUS’s family team is here to help and at the very least, an initial discussion with its Convener Austin Chessell or the director Paul Sandford will cost nothing.