Valentine’s day and anniversaries and other landmarks are all really nice opportunities to celebrate your relationship. However, if you are not staying alert and in tune with your partner, these few moments of recognition will not keep your love alive!
Be present. Pay attention. Observe and listen to your partner. We all want to be acknowledged, but often in different ways. Find out what your partner likes and desires, then translate that into something that you are comfortable with and able to do. Putting time and effort into finding ways to honor and celebrate your mate will be the water of your togetherness, and keep it growing toward the light.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis to nourish your relationship? The magic is often in the little things. Stay in contact and make sure your partner knows that you are connected, that you are thinking of them and sharing your inner life with them.
Sharing is one of the key words here. Sharing yourself, your thoughts, feelings and experiences is the glue of relationships through the everyday events of life. When we know what is going on with our mate, we feel connected in a visceral way which bridges any distance and smooths out misunderstandings.
Create surprises. Act out of the ordinary, but in line with what you have learned is meaningful to your partner.
Years ago, while living in a community, we all played the Guardian Angel Game for a few weeks in a row. The game is simple. Every morning you put all the names in a hat and then everyone picks a name. You are the guardian angel for that person for the day. The idea is to think of things that will please and support that person and then to do them anonymously. Three of us were walking along one day, and one of the people said “I’m so glad we are taking this walk. It is really cheering me up because I don’t think I have an angel today. I haven’t noticed anything special.” The other person, who happened to be her guardian angel said “But I invited you to go on this walk in the woods!”
That’s the idea. Go out and practice being the guardian angel to your partner as often as you can!
Phil: Your relationship is a living thing. It changes all the time. It is how it is today because of what happened yesterday, and tomorrow it will be affected by how you act today.
Think of it like a house plant. You can feed and water and care for it, or you can neglect it.
Do you nourish your relationship with caring, contact, communication, honesty, support and sexuality? Do you let it languish by treating it as the backdrop to your life of work, hobbies, community involvement, environmental activism and projects? Do you cause stress in your relationship through hostility, criticism and competitiveness?
Just like a house plant, your relationship can survive periods of neglect, but only for so long. Bring it back to health:
- Look at what attracted you in the first place. Odds are it’s still there, albeit changed or hidden under the grime of time.
- Look at what is positive. Software designers use the term WYSIWYG, What You See Is What You Get. When you look at the positive, life seems good, and when you look at the negative, life seems bleak. Pessimists and realists will protest that this is simply avoidance, but 80-90% of how we see the world comes from our internal view of it.
- Be present. There are several practical steps toward this. Be open to yourself and your body: how you are holding yourself, what you are feeling. This is a great help in the next step: promote being present through language by speaking in the first person and using only the present tense. Not “You took my hat” but “My ears are cold.”
Your relationship can be a source of much joy. Make it so.
Kit and Kat have something to say about this, too: