Today we cover part 2 of our series about how to avoid “falling out of love”. In part 1 I talked about how to deal with having different interests than your partner. Today I’m going to speak to another issue plaguing many romantic relationships, a lack of gratitude. I don’t blame most of us for lacking gratitude in our relationships. We’re taught from an early age that you should look out for yourself. This is especially true in relationships. After all, isn’t a good relationship marked by personal happiness and personal satisfaction? The very idea that we would stay in a relationship that makes us unhappy is foreign to most of us (or considered silly or even abusive). However, this mentality can sometimes cause unintended problems in a relationship. When we go into a relationship worried about our own happiness and satisfaction, we often forget to focus on our partner’s happiness. We lose our gratitude for the things our partner does for us and only focus on the negative things we don’t like about our partner. Eventually, these negatives are all that we see and we convince ourselves that we are no longer “in love”.
This mentality brings us farther away from one of the most universal truths about relationships, truly satisfying and long-term relationships are most likely to be achieved when both partners focus more on their partners than themselves. Having gratitude is one way to overcome this mentality. As we move past another Valentine’s Day, let me suggest three ways you can bring gratitude into your romantic life to help ensure that you don’t fall into this unhealthy relationship trap.
1. Make Gratitude a Proactive Process
Relationships take work; they take effort. Having and showing gratitude in a relationship also takes effort. If you are trying to be passive in your gratitude, your partner is probably not feeling it at all. Just thinking about how grateful you are isn’t enough. Be proactive! Make a goal each week (or better yet, each day) to express gratitude to your partner vocally. One of the most building experiences couples can have is a nightly expression of gratitude to each other. It may be something big or something small, but even the smallest expression of gratitude can change the landscape of a relationship if it becomes a pattern.
2. Be Grateful for Your Partner’s Flaws
This seems counter-intuitive but it’s one of the secrets to deeply committed relationships. Instead of letting those little flaws in your partner drive you crazy, be grateful for them. Your partner is human, they aren’t prefect, and they have things they need to work on (trust me, they know). Think about how exhausting it would be living with or dating someone who was perfect at everything. Sure it might be great for a week or two, but eventually that perfection would become grating and you’d probably start feeling pretty bad about yourself. Instead of wishing for a perfect partner, be grateful that your partner has things to work on with you and celebrate together when either of you overcomes any obstacle in your life. These flaws are opportunities to work together and, more importantly, a chance for you to show real support for your partner.
3. Be Grateful for Opportunities to Grow Personally
Again, relationships are a two-way street. Hopefully, your partner is willing to look past some of your own flaws and love you anyway. Be grateful for that. Most of us know where we fall short and do everything we can to cover these faults up. But they seem to always find a way to come back up, regardless. Your partner sees these problems and, hopefully if they read this blog too, doesn’t push them back in your face. The next time you realize your partner is loving you despite your tendency to be rude, disrespectful, or generally untidy, thank them for putting up with your flaws, too!
Gratitude is one of the protective factors that couples can have to avoid the “falling out of love” bug. If you haven’t had gratitude in your relationship (or haven’t had enough) follow the steps above to make it more of a priority. Your relationship will thank you for it. Check out RELATE for more great info on relationships and dating!