When we have a new relationship, like a new thing; we easily love and adore it. Our relationship benefits from this adoration.
As time goes on, our relationship is not so shiny and we tend to not be as appreciative that we are no longer alone in life, that we even HAVE a relationship. This impacts our relationship in a negative way.
This video/blog focuses on what can happen to our relationships when we take them for granted, the benefits of appreciating we have a relationship, and an activity to help develop that appreciation.
**A written version of the video can be read below.
Hello my name is Bri McCarroll and I am a psychotherapist located in Western Massachusetts. I help couples connect and communicate better by learning tools and skills that I teach in both Couples Workshops and Private Retreats.
Thanksgiving is coming up, as you know, and I want to talk today a little bit about gratitude.
One person I saw the other day, so impressed me, and really got me into thinking about gratitude. I went up to him and asked, “How are you doing today?” and his response surprised me because of the gratitude he showed.
He said, “I am just grateful to have my job. I’m here working hard. It is hard work, but I am grateful to have this job because it provides for my family, gives me a source of pride, and I am healthy enough to do this. I am just grateful that I am here right now working.”
I was actually kind of stunned. That is healthy, pure and great gratitude. It made me think about how so many times, we take all these things for granted. I get it. We know this; this is nothing new. But we really take our relationships for granted, a lot of times, as well.
So today, I want to talk a little bit about what happens when we are taking our relationships for granted, and what we can gain from being a little bit more grateful in them and just an idea to maybe inspire that a little bit.
When We Take Our Relationship for Granted…
We Reduce the Positive Signals We Send Our Partners
When we take our relationships for granted, we stop giving off a lot of the great signals that we gave to our loved ones when we first were together.
When we are first together, we are really great about saying how wonderful the person is, how much we appreciate them, smiling when we see them, and reaching out to touch and hug them. We were really great at giving those signals.
Once we start to take our partner for granted though, often times, we stop doing those things. We certainly reduce them. Maybe we don’t hold hands so much. We don’t text and say, “Hey, what’s going on?” We don’t do the sweet nothings that maybe we might have done historically. So that’s one thing, we stop giving some of the signals that historically we have.
We See More Faults in Our Partners
The second thing that happens, when we are not so grateful and we start taking our relationship for granted, is that we start to not have such rose-colored glasses and we actually start to have more gray-colored glasses. We start to find all these faults in our partners and we start to see the ‘bad’ in them. We start to notice their human-ness; how there’s things about them that we don’t find so appealing, not so attractive.
With that, we can actually start to create a negative self-fulfilling prophecy. We start with having some negative thoughts or perceptions about our partners. We then focus on those a little bit more and then we start talking about those negative things more.
Our Partner’s Respond to Our Negativity
As we are doing that, our partner hears our negativity, our criticism of them, and then they don’t feel good. They will start maybe showing a few more negative things because they’re not feeling good about themselves and this relationship. We then see those things, react to them and voice criticism of them. We start this snowball of negativity and that is actually very detrimental, as you can guess, to our relationships.
Then you know what happens from there–not good stuff. So I’m going to push you and pull you to STOP that taking your relationship for granted and do things a little differently. I want you to actually be appreciative in your relationship; you have to consciously do that.
When You Consciously Appreciate Your Relationship…
Your Relationship Develops Resilience
If you are better at consciously appreciating your relationship, you will be able to have much more resilience in this relationship. By you consciously seeing more of what your partner is doing well and just being grateful that you even have this relationship, your relationship will be stronger. Focusing on the thought, “Gosh, I am lucky to have this person in my life.” “Fate was kind when it gave me this person.”
As you consciously having thoughts of appreciation, you are going to start to feel grateful. As you are feeling grateful, you will start to build some resilience in this relationship. You are going to start to realize, “I AM fortunate..I am lucky…I am just blessed.”
So then, when your partner IS human and steps on your toes and pings you, as much as it will feel uncomfortable, might hurt your feelings, and might upset you, you’re going to have a little ping in there but you’re going to bounce back. You are going to have that resilience because you will have internalized that belief “I am so fortunate to have this person.”
You Will See More Good In Your Partner
By you having this ‘attitude of gratitude’ in your own mind, what will happen with that is that you’ll be much more aware of looking at the good things that your partner is doing. Your mind will be ready to see the positive qualities in this person and his good things.
With that, what will happen is that you will see something good; you are going to react to it. Hopefully, (if you have been following my blogs), you are going to say something good about that. (Read or view my video/blog “How to Express Appreciation in Your Relationship so You Both Benefit.“)
Your Partner Will Respond to Your Positivity
Your partner is going to hear that and say, “That was nice.” They will respond, hopefully, in a positive manner back. Even if not, they will be feeling better about themselves. If they are feeling better about themselves and this relationship, then they will be more open and able to connect with you.
If they can connect with you, what happens then? You will feel better and then you’ll see another good thing in them. Then, again, hopefully you will reinforce that. Even if you don’t, in seeing that good thing about them, you are going to feeling better and wanting to connect with them.
Attitude of Gratitude Creates a Positive Cycle in Your Relationship
You’re getting where this picture is going. By you having the ‘attitude of gratitude’ towards your partner, you’re going to send out these positive vibes to them, that they will respond to. Also, just internally, you will be even more internally ready to see this good stuff in them. So with that, you are actually creating a nice positive ball of connection; it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy in a really positive healthy way.
Putting It All Together
Again, in case I am just overwhelming you with all this positivity, why are we working on having an ‘attitude of gratitude’ about our relationships?
Because first of all, it doesn’t work if we don’t have it. If we don’t have it, we will tend to see the negative and we will have a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s going to go bad; it’s going to go to a dead end.
By us having that ‘attitude of gratitude’ about our relationships, that builds resilience so that we are more tolerant when things are not so perfect in our relationships. Also, it creates a a nice perpetuating cycle of positivity so that we are more able to connect and be in a good space with our partners.
So with this ‘attitude of gratitude’, I’m not speaking about anything that is incredibly original. I wish I was, but I’m not. What I will suggest is what you’ve probably heard before but I’m going to push a little harder.
It is the idea of taking a moment, on a daily basis. Give yourself 15 or 30 seconds. I encourage that you do it as a ritualistic time to help you remember. Close your eyes think of your partner and just think about the statement:
“I am grateful to have my person…I’m grateful that he or she is in my life…I am fortunate that this person is in my life.”
Just say that to yourself; you can say it out loud if it makes a little bit easier for you. Again, say it, think it, visualize your partner.
By doing that, you are creating the ‘attitude of gratitude’ in your own self about your relationship. With that, again, you ARE going to have, again, that increase in resilience to help you tolerate the harder times in your relationship. You are also going to be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, like a snowball of positivity, that will help you to connect, communicate, and just do better in your relationship.
Improve Your Relationship With a Private Couples Therapy Intensive (Retreat)
When you are feeling under valued and not appreciated in a relationship, it’s hard to have ‘gratitude’. Instead, you may be feeling angry with your partner, resentful, and like you are being taken for granted. As tough as these emotions are, they are surprisingly common in couples. It’s just about learning how to do things differently.
Private Couple Retreats (couples therapy intensives) and “Hold Me Tight Workshops®” for Couples help you learn communication tools so you can resolve conflicts and re-connect. New England Hold Me Tight has skilled therapists and relationship coaches who specialize in helping couples like you who want to save a marriage or fix a relationship.
To start you onto the path towards a healthier relationship, follow these simple steps:
1. Contact Bri McCarroll at New England Hold Me Tight.
2. Meet for a free 50-minute consultation (video or in office).
4. Start to rebuild trust and feel connected again.
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