I want you to think about common courtesy in your intimate relationships. How courteous are you to your spouse, kids, parents, and/or siblings? Often what you find is that you mind your manners more toward strangers than your loved ones. Sometimes, these close relationships are taken for granted and the pressure of societal expectation to behave a certain way is lessened.
But what happens when you neglect common courtesies toward your loved ones? There are negative ramifications.
Throughout my years counseling couples, I have discovered that once positive regard and words of gratitude and consideration start to slip, so does the relationship.
According to communication expert Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, as human beings, we all need the 4 A’s: Affection, Attention, Acknowledgment, and Appreciation. With the four A’s in mind, take a moment to reflect on how you treated your partner in beginning. Do you still treat your partner with the same level of verbal appreciation and high regard? Have you gotten so comfortable or resentful that these things have gotten lost in the daily grind?
My husband Victor and I are both mindful to verbalize our gratitude for all that we do for each other. I mean every single day, in all situations. Whoever did not make the bed thanks the other who did. Every time the dishwasher is unloaded, a meal is cooked, laundry is folded, or snow is shoveled, words of thanks are exchanged. (Ok, full disclosure, it is ALWAYS me thanking HIM for snow shoveling.) This may sound extreme, but the truth is that we all need to feel appreciated, and institutionalizing that positive behavior creates a reserve of good feelings, which, in turn, creates resiliency and flexibility in the relationship.
The same is true for the parent/child dynamic. As a parent, it is the behavior you model to your children that they will repeat no matter what you tell them. Do as I say but not as I do simply does not effectively teach kids manners or social sensitivity. Children will mimic modeled behavior, so remember everything you say and don’t say is a lesson on acceptable behavior.
I want you to think about your expectations of those closest to you. Do you expect a lot without being actively grateful for their efforts and support? Or is that dynamic reversed? These elements of expectation and gratitude play off each other since we are all energy, and the energy we give is inevitably the energy we receive.
If you expect certain behavior, you must be willing to give what you wish to receive.
The other side of the equation is gratitude. Why be grateful? Have you ever noticed that when you are appreciative, you feel good and it warms your heart? Again, if you are grateful and exude good feelings, others will respond in kind. Also, have you ever noticed how you are more likely to do something happily for someone when you know they will appreciate it? Well, others feel the same way.
Just as Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world,” you must be the change you want to see in your relationships.
This week, I challenge you to be as polite as possible in your home life and with your loved ones. Rocking more gratitude just might make life a little sweeter and happier all around. Does it change the way your family responds to you?
I am always interested in your thoughts, so please share. I am available to guide you and cheer you on, along with the rest of this supportive community. So give it a try and share your experience!
I hope you have a loving, polite, gratitude filled week!
Love Love Love