It’s almost Valentine’s Day! Do the following exercise to learn where your relationship could use a boost. Along with the usual card or flowers, consider giving your sweetheart the gift of efforts to make your relationship stronger.
The items in the chart below are the characteristics most often identified in studies of happy long term couples. Although not all couples show all of these attributes all of the time, having strengths in a majority of them does seem to correlate with permanence and contentment.
Take a moment to reflect on each item. Check off the appropriate column.
In my relationship, each of us:
A More important to me
B More important to partner
C Important to both of us
D Important to neither of us.
Look at the items you checked in Column B. Which do you feel comfortable offering to your partner as a “present”. Can you think of concrete and specific things you can do to make it occur more often in your relationship?
Now look at the issues you checked in Column A. Which to you feel comfortable asking for from your partner? Has something blocked you from asking or has it simply not occurred to you that you could? Take a moment to reflect on what you could do differently to invite more of these things into your life.
The items in Column C are things to celebrate together. These are the characteristics that make your relationship solid and strong.
You and your partner might want to examine the issues that show up in Column D. Why do you think that these issues aren’t important to either of you? It’s not necessarily a problem if you are in agreement. Some couples, for example, are not very verbally appreciative of each other. They agree that actions are more important than words and communicate their caring through mutual thoughtfulness. But if, for example, every conflict leads to painful blaming and fighting, it could undermine what otherwise has all the potential to be a happy relationship. If the items you checked in Column D give either of you pain, it’s something to work on. Think about how your life together would be different if you decided to add these dimensions to your relationship. Consider giving each other the gift of practicing them in your relationship until they feel natural for you.