TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Friendship takes time. Relationships require effort. Great relationships require consistent effort.
Most people have good intentions to keep relationships healthy. However, when asked how they show their partner or friends how important they are, most people do not have a very clear answer.
When asked directly how people show their loved ones they care about them, some common responses are, “They should know I still care, we are still together,” “I gave them a birthday present,” or “We go out to dinner, sometimes.”
Nice thoughts, but they don’t demonstrate to your partner how much they mean to you.
Complacency undermines success in relationships. Complacency undermines success in life in general.
Come up with an action plan to increase satisfaction in your relationships. Consistent and concentrated efforts usually lead to success. Many people start out excited to make positive changes in their lives — just look at New Year’s resolutions. However good people’s intentions are for a fresh start, most people give up resolutions within the first two weeks of January.
‘A’ FOR EFFORT
Make a concerted effort to show your partner and friends how you care about them. A few suggestions are:
Let your partner know you are happy to see them. Meet your sweetheart at the door when they get home. Look up from whatever you are doing when they enter the room. Make eye contact. Take a cue from a dog; wiggle and wag and rub up against them. Be excited to greet them every time you see them.
Make plans to do fun things together. Put these plans on your calendar. Schedule time to connect. Once a week, once a month, once a season, and once a year, do something specifically to celebrate your partner and your relationship.
Be playful. Life is busy, and if you do not make the time for each other, you will not find the time. Couples that do not make the time eventually do not want to spend time together.
Be affectionate. Touch your partner, hold their hand, rub their back, cuddle up next to them and hug them. Give your partner a kiss. A kiss that lasts more then two seconds. (One of the biggest complaints I hear from people in long-term relationships is their partners do not kiss them anymore).
Be kind. Kindness is one of the most important qualities in any type of relationship. Look for opportunities to demonstrate kindness. Acknowledge and recognize your partner and their accomplishments. Listen to them when they are talking, really listen. Give sincere compliments.
Notice your partner. Help them feel they are seen by you. Verbalize you notice they got a haircut or look great in that outfit. When they don’t feel well, acknowledge their feelings. Offer support. Ask how you can help. Ask them what they need from you and learn to offer it.
Communicate your thoughts and feelings. Tell your partner you love them. Tell them when they have hurt your feelings. Tell them what you need from them. Tell them what you are thinking and dreaming about. Do not assume they know how you feel about them. Do not assume they can read your mind. (No matter how long you have been together). Assumptions cause trouble. Most unhealthy relationships are based on assumptions.
Be honest. Nothing undermines a relationship as fast as dishonesty. A lie may seem sweet in the beginning, but it is bitter in the end, whereas a truth is bitter in the beginning but sweet in the end. People do not know what to do with liars. Lies create conflict. Most people do not like conflict. Again, be honest.
Accept responsibility for your self and the quality of your relationships. Know that you are 100 percent responsible for your own self. Know that you are 100 percent responsible for the energy you bring to your relationships. Learn how to offer a sincere apology. We all make mistakes. Grow from these lessons. Forgive yourself and forgive others and move on with your life.
Do not dwell in the past or in the wreckage of your future. Honor yourself. Do not settle for mistreatment of yourself or mistreatment of anyone else. Know you are worthy of love.
Take care of yourself. Stay healthy, stay active, stay positive, stay interesting, stay motivated. Be the kind of person someone would want to be in a relationship with.
There are 168 hours in a week.
Spend 15 minutes a day with the intent to focus loving energy on your partner or your friends or yourself — that adds up to one hour and 45 minutes a week. Fifteen minutes may seem like a very small amount of time to make much of a difference in a relationship, but try it for your self.
Set aside 15 minutes a day to tend to your relationship. Make the effort; the rewards will be sweet all year long. The rewards may feel so good and the benefits so great that you will quickly find more blocks of 15 minutes to dedicate to your relationship.
Happy loving everyday, but especially today. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Dr. Amy Vail is a psychologist and Reiki Master in private practice in Olympic Valley. She is the bilingual psychologist for the Gene Upshaw Memorial Cancer Center, Truckee, and the director of counseling services for Squaw Valley Academy. She works with individuals, couples and families, helping them to find healthier and more satisfying ways to live their lives. She can be reached at 530-581-2539, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.