As the holidays approach it is a wonderful time to remember that the greatest gifts cost no money and cannot be valued. The most important gift a couple can exchange is the gift of caring for their relationship. It is the gift of making your partner feel loved and desired.
People tend to lose sight of romance and our lover becomes more like a business partner, helping to accomplish life’s obligations. We might end up placing our spouse and even ourselves in limited roles and narrowly defined identities. Although it is important to accept our parental or professional roles, we must also remember and embrace the unique individual we are too.
Think back to when you and partner met. What made your relationship seem so special? What attracted you beyond the physical aspect? How did you romance each other, and how did you share your time together? How did you make your partner feel special? When we stop seeing our partner as our lover, we are creating a dangerous and growing distance into our relationship. Focusing on how to reincorporate our loving and sensuous selves back into our lives will improve emotional and physical intimacy, and increase our sense of fulfillment about our relationship.
So, how do loving couples communicate and treat each other?
They are inquisitive about the partner’s day, their thoughts and feelings, and then respond in ways that demonstrates their care and interest. They are open with their own feelings and are not physically or emotionally withholding. They are not secretive and conduct themselves in a way that promotes stability and trust. They don’t hold grudges or monopolize conversations and process through issues without being hurtful or intimidating. They are not defensive and listen with openness and the willingness to compromise and make changes. They share their loving and appreciative feelings and don’t keep compliments to themselves. They learn to be aware of their own issues and work on improving themselves. They are invested in their partner’s happiness go out of their way to do kind and loving acts. They try to keep themselves healthy and attractive for their partner. They make sure to share quality time together. They remember that their partner is a sexual being and care about their pleasure. They step out of their comfort level and expand their mindset to accommodate their partner’s hobbies and interests. They don’t play devil’s advocate or provoke or push buttons – they prefer open, honest, and supportive communications. They are mindful of their things and their space and give their partner the same consideration. They treat each other with kindness and respect.
As we remember that our partner is trying their best to manage many pressures and responsibilities, being someone’s child, sibling, parent, and co-worker, we must not forget that they need love, acceptance, and understanding – just as you do. They want to feel attractive, desired, and cherished. Encourage your partner to communicate their needs with you, share yours with them, and then work toward fulfilling those needs. This year in addition to all the presents so beautifully wrapped up in paper and bows, give your partner the gift of a loving and dedicated You.
Leslie Fabian, LCSW-R, MSW
Couples Counseling and Individual Psychotherapy
Croton on Hudson & NYC (917) 620-0524