Falling in love for most of us is involuntary.
From a sea of people, you catch a glance of one person and your mind says,
“whoa, what was that?”
Something in your natural radar connected instantly to their way of being, for reasons we may never understand.
But once a relationship begins, how do you sustain that feeling over months and then years?
Sustaining the value to both people becomes one of mutual responsibility. (As much as we really think it should just “happen.”)
But that’s where many relationships start to break down.
Even if both people still remember the “radar love” that took over their head, without learning a few “happiness” skills, neither one will get to feel loved in an enduring way just accidentally.
Living intentionally means you’ve become clear about the experience of life you want, and are actively making it so.
This applies to relationships especially, because much of living the experience of a happy life comes from stoking the happiness of our relationships.
Every relationship is unique, but there are a few simple things each of us can do to make them work happier, especially with the people we love.
Get Clear On What You Appreciate
Stop for a moment and think about what excites you about the person you love.
If you’re a list person, write them down. “How do I love thee, let me count the ways” is exactly that.
An Appreciation list.
This “A” list helps us keep the beautiful elements of who they are present in our thoughts every time we read it.
And that’s where lasting love grows from; staying present to what you appreciate about them every day, even when you’re not physically together.
There’s never one reason why a relationship breaks down, but a core reason many relationships fade is because of a lack of active appreciation of the other person’s value.
Because it’s so easy to let the noise of life take us off focus about what really matters.
Staying focused on our relationship mattering first, and the world second, changes everything on the long term happiness scale.
So here are a few ideas that can help you keep the appreciation sustained and the love you value, enduring.
Create Her (or Him) As Beautiful
When you create a person as beautiful, you’re not repeating in your head “They Are Beautiful” multiple times a day to convince yourself it’s true.
You start by using your Appreciation list to help you keep clear on how much they add to your life everyday.
Get The Appreciation Out Of Your Head
Anytime you hear an appreciation thought in your head, sincerely, say it out loud to them.
Never say a single word falsely. This is not “fake it ’till you make it.”
If you do, she or he won’t trust a complement or loving thing you say.
Use the feeling you felt when you wrote down that Appreciation to drive your complement.
It’ll likely feel awkward at first. You may need to push yourself to say it out loud when you think it.
But with a little conscious practice, you’ll start to make affirming your partner’s value to you, a wonderful, natural behavior.
Stay On Guard For Silenced Appreciation
In any day there are likely times you Visually observe something about the person you love where, in your head, you say “Man, she looks sexy,” or “Wow, I love that beautiful smile,” or “The clothes he’s wearing make him look so awesome…”
Or you notice something during the day they’ve Done for both of you like: “Nice, they emptied the dishwasher,” or “did the laundry today,” or any of the other simple, daily things that almost always go un-recognized for the kindness the doer is expressing by just doing them.
Take just a second to text them or if they’re near, tell them “By the way, Thanks for….”
They don’t need you to be all warm and gushy about it.
It’s about you making sure they know you noticed what they did to make life better and that it’s appreciated.
Pay Attention To What Matters To Them
Paying attention to what is important to her or him and honoring them by respecting it, is very powerful in a relationship.
Especially when it requires you to change your behavior to do so. (Darn).
Replacing your default habit, out of respect for them, goes along way with anyone to show you mean it when you say they matter, to you.
It confirms you genuinely respect who they are. It earns their respect for who you are, because they see you changed something in you, to love them better.
Here’s an example: Whoever regularly does laundry asks you to not put your clothes on the floor, but always in the closet or laundry bin.
You grew up throwing clothes on the floor, because your mom always picked them up and washed them.
But now you’re in a relationship that both of you are choosing to continue.
So each time you “forget” to do it to help them, it shows you don’t respect the effort they’re making for your love.
How It Feels To You
Think about this in your own life:
When today did someone say they appreciated who you are or what you are doing? This week? This month?
How disrespected did you feel when someone repeated the same behavior you asked them several times not to do? Did it make you feel less interested in being around them?
If they do that every week, imagine how it starts to erode the joy of being together.
Out Loud Is The Only Way It Counts
Start today to look for the everyday things they do to make your home life better and mention it.
Any time it occurs to you that the woman or man you love looks beautiful, say so.
Whisper it in their ear when you’re in public, or casually mention it from across the living room.
When you find something at home done that they took care of for you, text them immediately or leave a note on the counter for them to find when they get home.
When they tell you something positive they did at work, acknowledge the value they brought to it because of who they are.
Never keep that appreciation thought in your head.
Keeping it there, little by little, builds a void that pushes them away from you.
And the love that thought carries, never reaches the heart of the person you most want it to.
Practice Skills Of Happiness
A happy life comes from intentionally creating the experience of your relationship with others.
Especially with the people you love.
Starting is easy.
Just get your genuine appreciation of the one you love out of your head and into their world.
So few ever do this and the better you are at this skill, the more value you create in being with you.
You Don’t Have To Be Perfect
When it comes to relationships, no one starts off knowing how to create a sustaining love.
But it’s a skill we can learn to be much better at.
Learn to love them better, notice and act on what they care about most and keep practicing.
You won’t always get it right, but you’ll always be moving in the right direction.
There’s no such thing as “understood” appreciation. It’s a gift to be given each day, in Love.
Never stop moving forward.
Cheers to you,
Paul Good (MEd, MM)
Founder, The Power Of Intentional Living