When you’ve been in a relationship or marriage for a long time, it’s easy to take your partner for granted. Not that you want to take them for granted, but it just happens. We get into a routine. We get comfortable. And because of this we don’t tell our partner how much we love, value, and care for them and the things they do on a regular basis.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Oh, no! That’s me. I take my partner for granted,” don’t fret. It doesn’t have to stay that way! And the first step to fixing this common relationship issue is to think about things your partner does that you appreciate and admire. This is something I discuss in detail in Putting Kids First, the book I recently co-authored.
Most likely, you appreciate and admire your partner for numerous reasons. They make you a cup of coffee. They do the dishes. They take out the trash. They’re quiet in the morning so you can sleep a few extra minutes. They remember you had a big meeting at work and ask how it went. They listen to you vent about a bad day. They’ve got your back. They’re on your side. And they provide love and support through and through.
So make a mental list. If it helps, actually write it down. Then actively pay attention, and the next time your partner does something that makes you feel grateful you have them in your life, tell them about it! Or simply pick something from that list, choose a time, and share it.
You can literally say things like, “I really appreciated when you did X. Thanks.” Or, “You’re amazing. It makes me feel so loved when you X.”
Why do this? Because your partner wants to feel valued and loved. He or she wants to know that their efforts towards you, your family, and your friends are recognized and meaningful.
Now, sometimes expressing our appreciations and admirations for our partner can make us feel vulnerable. We don’t want them to know how much better off we are because they’re in our lives. But you have to get over this. Don’t allow your ego or your pride to get in the way. You should be vulnerable with your partner. And you should want your partner to know that what they do for you – and simply who they are – matters.
What happens if you don’t show or tell your partner how grateful you are? Well, the founders of Imago Couples Therapy have concluded that a lack of expressing your appreciation and admiration can make a huge difference between couples staying together versus ultimately drifting apart. They’re that powerful! By keeping them to yourself, your partner can start to feel unloved, unappreciated, and undervalued. And these feelings can take an immense toll on a relationship.
Additionally, when you share your appreciations and admirations, your partner will 1) be encouraged to do more of what you love and what you need, and 2) start to share their own appreciations and admirations for YOU! And the more you both do this – focusing on the positives of a relationship instead of the negatives – the stronger, healthier, and happier your relationship will be.
So today, I urge you to take my marital advice and pick one thing that you appreciate or admire about your partner and tell them how much it means to you. And then I want you to do the same thing tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and on and on and on!
Rooting for you!