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How To Appreciate Your Partner
The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Music Credits: “Anything and Everything” by J Lind
How To Appreciate The Partner You Have
As a marriage counselor and couples therapist, I completely understand the importance of having a great relationship. Working on your relationship through marriage counseling or relationship coaching in order to make it as good as it can be is a worthwhile endeavor. Working on yourself in service of your relationship is also an incredibly noble and positive thing to do. The energy you spend in cultivating a healthy relationship pays off in every aspect of life.
However, truth be told, I’ve also seen a dark side to this quest for self-and-relationship-improvement as well, which is never feeling satisfied with your partner, or your relationship. This type of “relationship perfectionism” can take many forms, including comparing your relationship to what you imagine other people’s relationships are like, having overly high expectations, over-focusing on your partner’s flaws, or overlooking their strengths. This makes it difficult to feel in love with your partner, or even content in a relationship — even a really good one!
Love and Appreciation
Love and appreciation are key to happy, healthy relationships. Getting hyper-focused on relationship problems will actually start to create relationship problems because it shifts the emotional environment away from acceptance and emotional safety, and towards criticism and contempt. When those communication issues are present, even the best relationships will start to feel harder than they need to.
All relationships, just like all people, are a mixed bag with wonderful parts, challenging parts, and “growth opportunities.” Learning how to appreciate your partner for who and what they are is often the biggest area of growth for couples in counseling — and the most fruitful.
Learning how to show appreciation can be the best thing that ever happened to your relationship. Also, paradoxically, showing appreciation (and feeling appreciated!) for your partner can be one of the fastest and most effective routes to creating positive change and growth in both of you.
When any of us feel understood and cherished for who we are, we flourish. The same is true for you and also for your partner. On today’s episode of the podcast, I’ll be talking more about how you can release negativity and embrace the type of mindset that will help you and your relationship, heal, grow, and thrive.
In This Podcast Episode: How To Appreciate Your Partner, Learn How To. . .
- Realize the importance of love, respect, and acceptance when it comes to relationships
- Learn how to appreciate your partner
- Understand how people can change, especially in a supportive relationship
- Learn the importance of letting things go and minimizing control
- Be made aware of the signs of an unhealthy and overly critical relationship
- Discover what unconditional love means
- Accept your partner for who they are and what they can give
- Learn how to foster kindness and generosity, and stop negative relationship patterns
You can listen to this episode right here on GrowingSelf.com, or on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Don’t forget to subscribe while you’re there! If you prefer to read, I’ve also included episode highlights with links to all the resources and additional information I referenced throughout the podcast. Scroll further and you’ll find a full transcript too.
Thanks for joining me, and I hope that this episode helps you and your partner create the type of loving and emotionally supportive relationship you each need and deserve.
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
How To Appreciate Your Partner
The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
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How To Appreciate Your Partner: Show Notes & Episode Highlights
Focusing On The Positive in Your Relationship
If your relationship has been feeling challenging lately, you’re probably thinking more about the issues. Wanting a better relationship is normal – and it’s completely valid.
Often, a partner who initiates marriage or couples counseling has this unspoken hope that they can change their other half in pleasing or gratifying ways. However, the secret to a good relationship isn't in trying to change your partner in a way that agrees with you.
Instead, “it is really about growing in your own capacity for love and appreciation and learning how to create an environment that nurtures growth that brings out the highest and best in both of you.”
Instead of zeroing in on the bad things, focus on the positives of your partner and your relationship. By shifting your view towards what's good and what you appreciate, you can improve your relationship and fall back in love with your spouse or partner.
Can People Change?
Finding the positive in your partner also has to be balanced with knowing your boundaries.
Your partner may hold beliefs or do things that you will not stand for. In this case, it’s okay to draw a line and say that you will not continue in your relationship unless things change.
If you’re unclear about whether or not your relationship is unhealthy, refer to these past Love, Happiness and Success podcast episodes:
- Unhealthy Relationships Advice: When to Save a Distressed Relationship
- When To Call Quits In A Relationship
- Leaving Toxic Relationships
But if you've decided that you are fully committed to your relationship and want to make it work, here's what you should be ready to give: acceptance, appreciation, and unconditional love.
When couples focus on understanding and appreciation, they foster goodwill and respect. All of a sudden, they stop being defensive. Only from this positive place can real change and improvement occur.
Stop Negative Relationship Patterns
In a relational dynamic filled with negativity, relationships tend to self-destruct from the pressure and toxicity.
You may think that this is because of personal differences and issues. Dr. Gottman, psychologist and relationships researcher, labels these as “perpetual problems.” Examples of these include:
- Personality differences
- Ways of being
These “perpetual problems” exist in every relationship, but here’s the punchline: it doesn't matter. What does matter more than anything else are negative feelings such as criticism and contempt.
Criticism may sound like the following phrases:
- “Do that differently.”
- “That's not right. I'm right and you're wrong.”
- “Why don’t you do this?”
On the other hand, contempt is often expressed in the following words:
- “You are ridiculous.”
- “You suck.”
- “You are hopeless.”
Criticism and contempt create rocky relational dynamics and elicits a lot of negativity from the other person.
To stop this negative cycle, grasp your point of control, which is understanding: “What am I putting into this relational system and how can I think about this differently? How can I do this differently so that I am no longer part of the problem?”
Understanding Your Partner
We are living in our own experience, so we understand why we do the things we do. We might feel groggy because we didn’t get any sleep. Or cranky because we had too much coffee. However, We often don’t have the same information when it comes to other people, even our partners. That’s why, in a negative relationship system, we start to tell ourselves a story focused on our partner’s flaws.
To break out of this system, we have to understand our partner better. For this, we can look at outside factors and even internal reasons for why people are the way they are.
“In addition to all of us individuals having our strengths, we also do have growth opportunities, and so does every relationship.”
So, aside from your partner, you should also consider your relationship as a whole. To learn more about your relationship, check out the How Healthy is Your Relationship assessment and then take our Attachment Style quiz for insight into you and your partner’s attachment styles. This will help you and your partner better understand where you are each coming from so that you can grow together instead of apart.
So much unhappiness comes from subconscious expectations. They can be:
- How love should be shown
- Who should be in charge
- What should be controlled
- How people should communicate
- How people should parent
In short, anything that has the word “should” can be a form of bias or unrealistic expectation.
“There is a wide range of acceptable behaviors, and there is no one ‘should'. There is no truth with a capital T.”
The gap between what you believe should be happening and what is happening creates bad feelings in many people. Doing shadow work and examining your inner narratives about this situation helps prevent this gap from widening.
Doing this work also allows us to pull ourselves back from feeling hurt or annoyed when we’re not getting all of our needs met. Instead, we can think about what it feels like on the other side: “What is it like to live with me?”
This question is a good starting point towards having a growth mindset. All relationships will eventually encounter junctures that either one or both partners don't know how to navigate.
By shifting into an appreciative and generous stance, we can create positive changes in our relationship. But remember: it has to start within ourselves. Only then can we bring that to the table of our relationship and do something great.
Resources: How to Appreciate Your Partner
- Dr. John Gottman
- Love, Happiness, Success episode with Jennifer Sands, Meaning Making
- Love, Happiness, Success episode, When to Save a Distressed Relationship
- Love, Happiness, Success episode, When To Call Quits In A Relationship
- Love, Happiness, Success episode, Leaving Toxic Relationships
- Love, Happiness, Success episode, How To Stop Divorce And Save Your Marriage
- Love, Happiness, Success episode, Shadow Work
- Growing Self’s relationship assessment
- Growing Self’s attachment style
Enjoy the Podcast?
Did you enjoy the episode? If so, be sure to share it with the people you love. What were your favorite tips for appreciating your partner? Are there any challenges you’re facing that make it hard for you to understand or empathize with your partner? Tell us by commenting on this episode. Subscribe to us now to discover more episodes on living a life full of love, happiness, and success.