Having added a little variety to your relationship in part one, let’s move on to appreciation - a powerful (yet under-utilised) tool for staving off boredom in our relationships…
We say thank you all the time. Thanks to the bus driver, thanks to the guy who makes our coffee in the morning… But how often do we thank our partners? And how often does the WAY we thank them leave them feeling truly appreciated?
I’m not talking about the token “Thanks for doing the dishes” (although this is a good start). I’m talking about thanking our partners for WHO THEY ARE to us (considerate, loving beings), rather than WHAT THEY DO for us (taking the garbage out and mowing the lawn). Finding ways to stop, notice and appreciate the many aspects of the PERSON we love– lets them know that we see and appreciate THEM, rather than the set of tasks that we're happy to tick off our to-do lists.
Appreciation doesn’t just give our partners a boost, there are a couple of benefits in it for us too...
- It reminds us of the qualities that our partners have (that we often ignore when focusing on the one or two things that grind our gears).
- It also helps to slow the creep of expectations. Whilst we may have initially appreciated the way they make a cup of tea for us in the morning, take the rubbish out, or make an effort with our families… over time we can come to expect these things, and many small gestures can go unnoticed.
- Appreciation also increases relationship commitment and the likelihood that people stay together (so if you want your man or woman to stick around… appreciation is a good place to start).
- AND last but not least, gratitude breeds gratitude, so you may just get a little of that love back at you.
Convinced? Here are a few ideas for how to build appreciation it into your relationship…
- When your partner does something that you’re grateful for, try thinking about what quality or characteristic this highlights in them. See if saying “I really appreciate how ____________ (insert good quality here e.g. considerate/patient/thoughtful) you are” makes a difference.
- Often we use ‘Thank yous’ as an introduction to our emails or messages ‘Thanks for the lift this morning…” before we launch into another topic or request…. “Just wondering if you could….(insert request)”. When we do this, the sentiment is lost. Perhaps it’s worth sending a message or email JUST to say thank you. I sent a little “Hey____, just wanted to let you know how grateful I am for your love and support this month” message to my partner last week …pretty sure he liked it…
- Sometimes, feelings of gratitude don’t need to be expressed. It can simply be something that we cultivate in ourselves to enhance our own sense of love and satisfaction. One exercise that can help is ‘subtracting your partner’…. this sounds pretty grim, but the effects are quite the opposite. Spend some time contemplating or writing down what life would really be like without your partner. In a strange way, this helps us to to see with greater clarity, how much our partners add to our lives.
So, next time you are feeling the itch of boredom in your relationship, rather than questioning whether the relationship is doomed (because thanks to to the way our minds and bodies are wired – this pretty much happens in all relationships), think instead about how to get creative. Perhaps we can instead ask – how can I add some variety to our daily lives - so that I can explore new and perhaps deeper sides to my partner? AND, can I cultivate more appreciation for the person that I am already with?
With Warmth, K & A xx