Those two things are happiness and appreciation.
Sounds too simple? Maybe, but stick with me…
1. Your happiness is very important, but not in the way you might think.
It’s common to think that a relationship in and of itself should make you happy. Unfortunately this belief causes people to look to the other mere mortal in the relationship and expect them to provide much more than they are capable of.
The truth is that happiness is a choice, not something that your partner gives you through action. Doing things that make you a more well-rounded, fulfilled person is both the more direct route to fulfillment and gives you a richer relationship.
When you follow your passions it is magnetic to the other person. It makes you more interesting. You feel more fulfilled and happy and bring that home with you. You look to your partner for less fulfillment and have more to give them.
So how do you do this?
You know that thing you’ve always wanted to try? Do it. Pursue goals with and without your partner. Work on the parts of your life that are dragging you down. Make sure that you’re making an effort to grow. Work on your own happiness and drop the expectation that someone else will make you happy. A good relationship should add to your life not be your life. If you’re unhappy, consider whether you’ve lost yourself and if spending some concentrated time on yourself might be the key to feeling better.
2. Your appreciation is magic.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
― Maya Angelou
Ever felt taken for granted?
Chances are that the other person failed to show that they appreciated you. Over and over again, people in rocky relationships report that they are dying for the other person to recognize their contributions.
Whatever you do, show gratitude for multiplies. Things you don’t appreciate decay.
That means that if you want more romance, consideration or anything else, the best way to get more is to show how much you appreciate what you have now. On the other side of the coin, if you stop being grateful, eventually you’ll stop getting those things.
Most people nod in agreement when I talk about appreciation and then at the end they say something like, “but THEY don’t appreciate ME. It seems crappy to do all of this thanking them for every little thing and not have them notice.”
Sure, it sucks not to feel recognized, but remember that you get what you give and you can only change yourself. If you are withholding your appreciation because the other person isn’t showing you what you want, NEITHER of you get your needs met. If you make sure the other person feels wonderful around you, they will either start reciprocating or you can leave, but withholding isn’t the answer.
So how do you do this?
Try this experiment. For the next 24 hours, thank them out loud with a big smile for every single thing they do for you. If you both aren’t at least slightly happier with each other by tomorrow, I’d be really surprised.