Respect, Admiration, and Fondness in Your Romantic Relationships
A mini post today because it came across my mind and was a topic of a couple’s session today. This can also be related to the happiness series of how gratitude and appreciation show up in your relationships.
Here at Knoxville Counseling Services, we work with many couples in different stages of their relationships: dating, engaged, newly married, married for a long time, and those going through the separation/divorce process. In the first session, I assess for the culture of admiration and respect in the relationship which tells me a lot about the health of a relationship.
Dr. John Gottman’s research has shown that fondness and admiration are two of the most crucial elements in a rewarding and long-lasting relationship. All relationships have conflict and periods of disconnection, but a critical ingredient for couples to be resilient during these times is that they maintain the emotional connection through like, admiration, and respect. This is a friendship skill which is part of building and maintaining a solid foundation to your relationship. When the respect and fondness stop, it is much more difficult to repair conflict wounds and, well, just generally like being around each other! Happy relationships are respectful relationships.
Here are just a few ways you can show your partner respect and admiration:
· Express it – tell your partner specifically what you like, admire and respect about them.
o “I’m proud of the way you _____.”
o “I like how you ________.”
o “I’m attracted to your _____.” (think internal and external qualities)
· Thank them for big and small things.
· Say please when asking for things. Implement the basic manners you’ve been taught and are teaching your children.
· Leave a note in their work bag or travel bag. Let them know you’re thinking of them.
· Pick up their favorite food or drink item at the grocery store.
· Buy a small gift that reminds you of them.
· Send them articles or songs throughout the day you know they will enjoy.
· Ask what they need help with that day.
· Put down your phone and give him/her all your attention when talking.
· Listen. Fully listen. And provide support.
· Listen to their insight on a situation.
· Share responsibilities around the house. Offer to do a few more chores if you know the other is overwhelmed. Or just do it without asking!
· Send flowers to their work.
· Drop off coffee at their work.
· Give each other a lingering hug and kiss when you leave in the morning and arrive back home at the end of the day.
· Plan a date night.
· Smile at each other.
· Support each other’s careers. Celebrate successes.
· Brag about your partner to your friends, kids, co-workers, and family.
· Express affection.
· Exchange touch (hold hands, sit next to each other on the couch, scratch backs)
· Ask “What can I do to make you feel more loved?”
· Appreciate their independence and give them space in the relationship.
· Accept that your partner is not perfect.
· If you know your partner likes coffee in the mornings, make it for him/her or get it set the night before.
The list can go on and on and on. The important part is to do small things often. Fostering an environment of respect and admiration is an antidote to contempt and increases satisfaction in relationships.
The author of one study who followed multiple relationships for decades concluded:
“Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.”
- Robert Waldinger.