The other day I wrote about how important it is for partners to treat each other generously, in the same manner as they would treat themselves.
My partner, P., had spent the morning neatening up the house, while I sat at my computer working. And he was totally sweet about it. No grumbling, no pointing out of the unfairness, no using this incident as an occasion to dredge up past slights or to comment on the deficiencies in my character.
P. just treated me as he would treat himself if he were having a distracted, work-saturated morning. He accepted my behavior and just let it go.
As a relationship educator (and relationship veteran!), I knew enough to notice and appreciate P.’s simple generosity. Because I see and hear about the opposite kind of behavior all day every day.
One of the comments I received was from TPG:
I hear the overwhelming appreciation But when and how did you say, “Thank you?”
An excellent question!
First, I did thank P., specifically, for doing all the work while I did nothing.
I also spoke to P. that evening, about how immersed in my work I have been lately, and how I wanted him to know I am aware of this and I don’t want our life to be like this forever. And I invited him to talk about how my distractedness might be feeling to him.
I also tell P. on a regular basis how much his patience and support mean to me. Because it’s true! It dawned on me one day: I have so many positive, loving thoughts about P. every day, but how would he know about them? I need to tell him!
Another way I thank P. is by extending him the same kind of generosity. For example, I’m much more of a planner, whereas P. is last-minutey. This weekend I left our activities up to him, which basically meant that for two days I didn’t know what things we were doing until we were doing them. This kind of spontaneity challenges my comfort-level, but I just let it go.
I have even come to believe that being pushed outside my comfort zone is good for me. It makes me grow. It makes me realize I’m stronger and more flexible than I thought I was. I think it’s healthy to not always get my own way. Hopefully, P. also grows by having his neatness comfort-zone stretched a bit.
Finally, P. and I have developed the habit of expressing appreciation all the time. For specific gifts and favors, and also in the general sense of showing our gratitude for having each other.
In what ways do you show appreciation in your relationship?
In what ways does your partner show their appreciation for you?
photo from the boat show in Mystic, CT, this spring; I never would have gone if P. hadn’t pushed me outside my comfort zone and taken me!
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Last reviewed: 29 Jul 2011