February is the month for Valentines. If you have someone special, it’s a great time to take a moment to appreciate what you have and to give your relationship a boost.
Often in the busyness of life, with work, bills, kids, and chores, we relegate our marriage to the back seat. We take it for granted, and don’t give it the care and maintenance it needs and deserves. The well-known time management guru, Stephen Covey, talks about the difference between things that are “urgent but not important” and the things that are “important but not urgent”. The things that are urgent but not important (well, some of them are kind of important), tug at you to be done. Like all those daily chores and tasks, and getting to work on time. Like answering the phone when it rings, because it intrudes and demands something of you, right now.
The things that are important but not urgent don’t usually tug at you. They wait quietly for your attention. Like getting down on the floor and playing with your child instead of doing the dishes. Like spending quality time with your loved one, without distractions.
We think we will have time for that later. Having lost two family members last month, I am reminded that this is not always a valid assumption. And having watched couples separate because they were so busy taking care of “business” that they neglected to take care of their relationship, and one day found they no longer had a relationship, I am reminded of the importance of recognizing what is valuable in our lives and making it special.
Let me just offer some suggestions that might help. First of all, be grateful. Focus on the good qualities of your partner and your relationship. In fact, in your Valentine’s Day card this year, in addition to saying “I love you”, list some of the specific things you love about your partner. What qualities do they have that you really like? What things do they do that you especially appreciate? What makes them special to you?
Celebrate good things. While it’s important to support each other in difficult times, it’s also important to celebrate good things together. Couples that notice and compliment each other on their successes are happier and have stronger relationships. When your partner does something well, compliment them on it. Share accomplishments with each other. It can be something well done at work, or an interaction with your child that went particularly well. Be each other’s number one supporter, both in difficult times, and in the large and small accomplishments in life.
Another thing you can do to nourish your relationship is to make sure you are having fun together. The happiest couples tend to be good at this. They play together, they laugh, they spend time enjoying each other’s company. You can even make working or doing chores together more fun, by being playful with each other. You can lighten up and still get things done. If there’s not enough of this in your lives, talk about how you can get more quality time together. And then, as Nike says, “Just do it!”. Make it happen, because it’s important.
Another thing you can do to improve your relationship is to make sure you are taking good care of yourself. Instead of focusing on what the other person should or shouldn’t be doing, focus on how you can make things better, for yourself as well as for your partner. If we take responsibility for our own lives and choices, we will have a more positive attitude, and this increases our own happiness, as well as making our relationship more comfortable.
As the Beatles said in Abby Road, “The love you take is equal to the love you make”.
So remember what’s important, appreciate each other, play, and make some love!
Dr. Catherine Aisner is a Psychologist in South Lake Tahoe, helping individuals and couples improve the quality of their lives. She can be reached at 530-541-6696 or online at www.CatherineAisner.com.