One thing I often observe with many couples is the way that they talk to each other. Many couples I see have been living together for five, ten or even twenty years. And because they know each other so well, they are at a point in their relationship where they can literally finish each other’s sentences.
Although this is definitely a sign of being in sync with each other, what I notice a lot is that then instead of listening to their partner attentively and patiently, they almost seem to want to rush ahead and speed up the conversation. There is no doubt that this can sometimes lead to very funny misunderstandings and discussions.
Equally, many couples have seemingly stopped appreciating the other person for what they really do, have and are. Your relationship is like a big jigsaw puzzle where each person brings in an equal number of pieces, and you both together build the picture of your life together from these puzzle pieces.
When you started out with your relationship, you were – more likely than not – both appreciative of each other. You would tell your partner how much you loved them and what specifically you liked. In the beginning, you probably each praised the other for particular skills or tastes, or even for your commonality. You might have even become excited when you each exclaimed “That’s exactly what I like/think too!”
Fast forward some years, and you may have unknowingly started to take the other person for granted. You’ve fallen into a routine and it seems to work. Say for example that one of you is responsible for the laundry. Why mentioned it then, it’s their job, isn’t it? Imagine the alternative, of noticing and appreciating, by saying something along the lines of “Thank you for taking care of my work clothes again. What would I do without you?”
Instead of the weekly instruction – “Remember, tomorrow is waste collection” or “Have you taken the bins out?”, imagine how much kinder the exchange would become if you could add the words “please” and “thank you”.
You might think it’s no big deal. And you may be right. You live together, you know each other, and you’ve been through some ups and downs together. You are so comfortable with each other that you don’t need the fluffy talk of please and thank you anymore. You are just getting the job done.
Still, as efficient as your conversations may be, I would urge you to give it a try and really appreciate your partner on a daily basis for all of the things they bring to your partnership, and all of the things they do for you, big or small, routine or not. You could even emphasis your words and gratitude with a quick kiss.
Imagine if your partner’s face lit up after you said the words – “Thank you for cooking tonight, this meal is wonderful” and then planted a loving kiss tenderly on your partner’s mouth. Imagine again, if you did this in full view of your children, who are constantly learning from your interactions with each other. I believe that every person at your table would feel better for having been a part of that exchange – yourself included.
There are so many opportunities to notice and appreciate your partner out loud. When your partner is wearing something particularly nice or clothes you have selected together in a shop, make a comment and praise that you really like what they are wearing. Don’t be discouraged if your partner has a hard time accepting your compliments, especially if they are not used to hearing them, but simply encourage them to accept it and say “Thank you”.
Respect is more important than love in your relationship.
Your words of appreciation for your partner will increase their self-worth, their confidence, and their happiness.
One of my beliefs is that we often treat our partner in a way that we would never dare expose to even our best friends. Just imagine you are at your best friend’s house and they offer you a beer or glass of wine – you would take it and say “thank you”. Why do we not give the same courtesy or respect to our partner at home?
If a total stranger holds the door open for you at a supermarket, you say “Thank you” and offer a smile. When your partner opens the car door for you, you perhaps don’t even notice it.
These little gestures show to your partner that you are not taking everything they do for granted and that you are deeply grateful for having your partner in your life.
And from time to time, it really is best to verbalise it.
If you feel guilty of perhaps falling into the routine of marriage and forgetting to notice what your partner brings to your relationship, then I invite you to write down ten things you are really grateful for in your partner. Take your time and please put some thought into this. Be mindful in really acknowledging which area of your relationship is your partner really shining.
Once you have these ten points together, read them again and then, have a think about presenting the list to your partner.
You could send a text saying “I am really grateful for having you in my life because of…a), b), and c). Or if you are a bit more romantic – like myself – write your partner a beautiful card and leave it next to their pillow or in their breakfast spot one morning.
Appreciating your partner every now and then for what they are and for what they bring into your relationship is a beautiful way of refreshing your love for each other and strengthening your relationship. And I promise, you will be both feel good for doing so.
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