Much of the above will also foster a sense of belonging – the other variable essential for positive alignment in a relationship. While some wisdom literature would encourage us to ‘detach’ and not be dependent in any way on others for our happiness, humans have a “conditioned” basic social need of being loved, accepted and valued for who they are. As in the corporate world where team work and acceptance are essential for a positive work place culture and staff morale, so too do these need to be evident in a marriage relationship. Whilst the following suggestions may seem very behavioural and thus superficial, we sometimes forget that even the simple and small things can make a huge difference in the way we feel valued, appreciated and accepted.
Thank you seems to be an undervalued word these days. Just as “saying sorry” can be so powerful in fostering stronger relationships, so too can the two words thank you. When was the last time you thanked your spouse or partner for something they have done, no matter how small? A lack of mutual appreciation often characterises marriages that are out of alignment. Be unconditionally thankful and grateful.
Sing ‘Sexy’ Songs
In the book Song of Songs (4:1-7) there are a number ‘sweet tunes’ men and women like to experience.
Women desire caring, understanding, respect, devotion, validation, and reassurance. Men desire trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, approval and encouragement. All pretty old fashioned stuff. Try it – you’ll be surprised how this will help you return your relationship to the heights of ‘your first love.’
Be demonstrative towards your partner. It’s not enough to assume that they know you love them. Show them in small ways that you do. A short note tucked away where they will find it, a five minute back rub (no strings attached guys), a single flower from the garden, a homemade dinner or breakfast that you took time to prepare, – all demonstrate your attitude towards your partner. Recall that communication is 70%-80% non-verbal, so a lot of our communication is not from words. Touch is a primary human sense, and through gentle touch we can show how much we care. Remember about your appearance also. Too often couples stop feeling the need to look good for their partner. If you don’t care what you look like, your partner may find it difficult to care about it too. The danger of course is that you only love the person if they “do” these things.
I’m not a marriage counsellor, but this year we reach our 43rd wedding anniversary. (Yep, that’s right – we were just kids when we got hitched!) I often fall short but am beginning to understand the power of love and the many small ways it can strengthen significance and belonging in relationship. Let me know if any of this works for you?
© Dr Edward Gifford, Nov 2012