When you and your partner come together at the end of the work day what’s the first thing you do? Flip on the TV, check email, or hop on social media? Do you ever feel like your connection has become an afterthought?
What I’ve seen in more than 25 years as a psychotherapist is how very easy it can be to take our people for granted. Cultivating lasting love is a daily practice.
If you seek a deeper connection and more intimacy with your lover, this episode is for you.
You’ll learn some tips and strategies to ritualize acknowledging your person. When there is a mutual commitment to daily appreciation rituals, it keeps us close with those we love the most!
Prefer the audio? Listen here.
So much joy can come from simple, daily acknowledgment and appreciation, and yet in long-term committed relationships, all too often those things fall by the wayside.
Therapeutically, there are 4 essential elements that fuel healthy relationships.
We call them the 4 As:
While these might seem self-explanatory, let’s get into them a bit because even though things can seem obvious, it doesn’t mean we prioritize them in our life or in our relationships.
Attention creates trust and safety. Real, focused attention means not being on a screen or doing anything else when we are talking and connecting with our people.
I have rules in my life around technology. I am absolutely uninterested in talking to someone who is buried in a screen. I have no doubt I deserve your full attention and you deserve mine. As my kids got older and smartphones became ubiquitous, I put limits into place. I still use a simple phrase, “I need you to listen with your eyes and your ears,” to communicate my boundary around this.
There are amazing benefits to technology and it can be one of the greatest disconnectors in our relationships if we don’t have healthy boundaries around it.
Better listening is another benefit of prioritizing concentrated attention in our relationships. Learning to practice active listening and asking expansive questions can take you to a deeper level of connection with your partner. When you give your positive, full attention and are actively listening, you’re not waiting to talk or auto-advice giving- you are asking open-ended questions like, “Then what happened?” and “What was that like for you?” and “How did that feel?”
When you create sacred time to give one another focused attention like this, your relationship flourishes.
Acceptance is the next component of healthy, lasting love. It means we view one another with compassion, understanding, and accept each other’s weaknesses and strengths. Acceptance creates a safe space in our relationships. It allows us to make mistakes and be vulnerable without being harshly judged, criticized, or shamed.
I love this quote by Elizabeth Gilbert:
“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.”
That is really what healthy love is.
When there is mutual acceptance in a relationship, each partner is emotionally trustworthy. Each assures the other with actions and words that the relationship is a soft place to land where it is safe to fully be their messy, human selves. Acceptance doesn’t mean accepting crappy behavior- it means accepting one another for who you truly are, each and every day.
We can choose whether our behaviors tear down our relationship or build it up. Practicing daily appreciation by acknowledging your person is like making deposits into the well of goodwill of your relationship.
Trust me, when the going gets tough and the shit hits the fan (as it does in life), that well of goodwill is what you will draw on to get you through. In my marriage, we thank each other for the little things every, single day- like making the bed or unloading the dishwasher, or taking out the trash. Everything.
Overboard? Maybe, but every thank you makes a difference, and you know what? My husband doesn’t work for me. Everything he does to make my life easier and every kindness he extends to me is a gift. I am vocally appreciative. And that goes both ways. Communicating your appreciation and gratitude to your person is a way of cherishing them daily.
Ritualize verbal and physical affection in your relationship. Everyone has a different level of need for affection, make meeting your partner’s needs and vocalizing your own needs a priority. Call each other sweet names and compliment each other. Choose affection over criticism. Be flirty. Hug and kiss hello and goodbye.
Every expression of these 4 A’s- attention, acceptance, appreciation, and affection- builds depth, connection, and lasting love. It takes conscious work and commitment, but it is well worth it.
Inside your downloadable guide, you will find more ways to incorporate these practices into your relationship, plus the daily rituals my husband and I practice that keep our marriage strong so that you can make your own. You can grab your guide here now.
I hope this added value to your life, and if it did, please share it with the people in your world. Have an amazing week loving one another, and as always, take care of you.