I may be putting you on the spot, but have you in the past week told your partner how much they mean to you? I’m thinking of something from the heart like, “Knowing you’re there for me makes me feel so cared for and lucky.” Or a bit milder like, “I appreciate the way you put up with my meltdown the other day.”
If your answer is no, you’re not alone. Most of us assume our significant other knows how we feel about them so it’s not necessary to express our love or appreciation. Not true! Relationship experts John and Julie Gottman of the Gottman Institute say, “Don’t assume your partner knows all the ways that you love them. Sometimes they need to hear it! Loving out loud can build a healthy relationship.”
I’m so passionate about the subject of expressing our heart to our loved ones that I wrote a book on it. In The Affirming Way of Life: See the Good, Speak the Good, Spread the Good, I show through personal stories backed by research that the words we speak actually shape our relationships. I can tell you from experience that expressing appreciation and adoration to my husband has transformed our relationship and the same is possible for you.
Here are five simple tips to get you started creating more loving feelings in your relationship. Keep in mind these ideas can apply to any bond not only significant others.
Five Tips for Growing the Love in Your Relationship
Look with eyes that see the good. It’s so easy to focus on what’s missing with our loved one, rather than the good that’s there. Try making an intentional mindshift—notice the positives in your partner. My husband, Gus often empties the dishwasher, but leaves at least a quarter of it on the counter for me to put away. I feel the words brewing, How could you not know where these things go? You’re just making more work for me. But I immediately shift to positive thinking, I so appreciate that he empties the dishwasher. I hate doing it. I can count on him. So I say, “Thanks honey I really appreciate you emptying the dishwasher, it’s one of my least favorite jobs.” We share a warm moment.
Express appreciation for who they are, not just what they do. Reflect on your partner’s characteristics that you admire and value. Our words about them shape their sense of self and impact the feel of our relationship. One of the things I appreciate most about Gus is how easy going he is. So I affirm him by saying, “I so appreciate that when I don’t feel like cooking you just say, ‘an omlet is fine.’ How lucky I am to have such an easy to please husband.”
Be specific and sincere in your affirmations. When we’re specific we give the other person something to hold onto. I’ve noticed when I would just say things like “You’re such a good husband or I love you,” Gus would ask, “Why?” I realize how important it is to be specific and of course to speak from the heart.
Commit to affirm your significant other once a day. Like any good habit you want to develop, it takes repetition, commitment and practice. As you search daily for specific good things you can say to them, the good in them will become more of your focus. The most beautiful benefit is that in time your relationship will feel like the gift it can be!
A Bonus: As you make a point of appreciating and affirming your partner, they may begin to do the same for you. It’s worked that way for us. Spread good energy in your relationship and you’ll find unexpected silver linings.
James Taylor, my favorite go-to artist when I want to get in a mellow, happy state of mind says it the best in Shower the People:
Shower the people you love with love
Show them the way that you feel
Things are gonna work out fine
If you only will
Wishing you a wonderful month of showering the people you love with love! Please let me know any topics you’d like me to write on. I love to hear from my readers.
Gail Siggelakis is the award-winning author of The Affirming Way of Life: See the Good, Speak the Good, Spread the Good. She is a speaker, blogger, and professional coach. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out her website theaffirmingway.com