If you’re someone who’d love to improve the connection in your relationship but aren’t sure where to start, I’d like to share with you a simple but powerful phrase that I believe can help. I learned this gem years ago from Dr. Patricia Love – it has become a personal mantra of mine that helps me stay attuned and connected to my husband.
Here it is:
“Make your partner’s needs a priority, as important to you as are your own.” Repeat. “Make your partner’s needs a priority, as important to you as are your own.”
This simple phrase, which I attempt to remember whenever I catch myself about to ignore one of my husband’s requests, has proven invaluable in preventing many a “relationship-train-wreck” – I believe it has the power to do the same for you.
Let’s Explore This a Bit
To fully appreciate the wisdom and value of this thought, and understand how it could boost the connection in your relationship, you must first become conscious of all the ways you may not be making your partner’s needs as important to you as you think. Have you ever stopped to consider how often it is you dismiss, minimize, criticize, judge and/or just plain tune out your partner’s requests? You know, all those annoying little ones you secretly consider “illogical”, “petty”, “silly”, basically “unnecessary”. Admit it, you do sometimes think this, yes?
Most of us are so accustomed to dismissing our partner’s requests, we aren’t even aware we do it. Day in and day out, we half hear each other’s complaints, quickly conclude they are unnecessary or in no way pressing, and simply go on about our day.
The result is, our partner ends up believing we just don’t care, which leaves them feeling disrespected and bottom line, pretty unimportant. You know how you feel when the situation is reversed, yes? When your spouse or partner dismisses or forgets something that’s important to you? It’s no different for them.
So let’s assume that you do ignore your partner’s needs to some degree. And that you’re willing to change that if it will help your connection. So here’s what you do:
First, write this above phrase, “Make your partner’s needs a priority, as important to you as are your own”, on five 3 x 5 index cards. Place them where you will see them several times a day. Repeat the phrase to yourself – often. Make it your new mantra.
Now, for the next 30 days, make the fulfillment of this your number one priority by taking-to-heart every request your partner makes. Big and small. The sensible and the seemingly senseless. And yes, this includes all those little things she/he has repeatedly asked you to do in the past that you generally have put off, forgotten or just outright haven’t done.
Whenever you feel your old resistance coming up, and it will, stop, repeat the mantra and ask yourself this question: “If this were something important to me, how would I feel if my partner just ignored it?” If the answer is “not good“, then you need to do this for them!
Sound hard? You bet. But immensely worth the effort. I mean, seriously, how much is a happier relationship worth to you? It can happen, but it won’t come fast and it won’t be free. Once your partner starts feeling more noticed, respected and loved, though, they are going to be much more likely to begin moving closer.
But Wait, We’re Not Done . . .
Short of a life-or-death situation, human beings & relationships do not change rapidly. The process of us changing ourselves or our relationship is similar to that of driving from downtown Houston to the Galleria in 5 o’clock traffic. Expect delays. Impatience is not your friend.
So to help yourself hang in there, you need to become something of an expert at spotting the initial, small signs of success that will tell you your efforts are making a difference. These will be the mini-rewards that will help keep you going until the full effect of following your new manta takes hold.
So, after a week or two, ask yourself: “Does my partner seem to engage a little more?” Smile more often? Move closer? Touch or talk to me a little more than usual?” If the answer to any of these is “yes”, then no matter how brief/small these changes might be, you have just found a way to single handily improve your relationship!
CONGRATULATIONS – DON’T STOP!
“But What If I Don’t See Any Signs of Progress?”
If you don’t see even tiny signs of change, I want you to remember these two things.
Reason to Keep Going #1:
You need to know that neurons are not designed to notice new data, even data we actually want to see, have been begging for, and are desperate to have happen. Consequently, we all tend to see what we’ve seen before, hear what we’ve heard before and experience what we’ve experienced before. Especially if you and your partner have been together a long time, you both will tend to miss changes the other makes.
To combat this little road bump, you may need to bring your changes to your partner’s attention! “Honey, did you notice I put away the laundry?” Smile, smile. Just yesterday a wife told me how grateful she was that her husband had recently pointed out that for the last month he has been engaging in more conversation and staying in the family room at night, rather than retreating to his study the way he had done for years. She admitted that until he did this, she hadn’t noticed even though it’s something she has asked for for years!
Reason to Keep Going #2:
Let me ask you a question: If your partner suddenly changed in some way that you have long been hoping for, would you immediately assume that they were going to continue this new behavior indefinitely? Would you be jumping for joy at the first sign of something new? I hope your answer is “no”. Habits are hard to alter. Trust is not so easily won. It’s just human nature. So if you have changed, and your partner is not showing you the gratitude nor recognition you probably deserve for your efforts, DON’T GIVE UP. Hang in there….. give it more time. I promise you they have noticed and are just waiting to see if you will continue.
Good luck! You can do this….. why not start tonight? Then get ready to enjoy a much improved connection between you and your partner – very soon!
Happy relating and remember to take care of each other,