And did you get what
You wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved,
To feel myself beloved on the earth.
~Raymond Carver in“Late Fragment”
One of the characteristics that sets the blue ribbon relationships apart from the rest of the pack is the tendency for both partners to live in a state of appreciation for all the ways they enhance each other’s lives. They live with an attitude of gratitude that prompts them to continually seek out ways to make each other’s lives easier, more pleasurable, more enriched, and more fun. They make it a point to do this through various acts of assistance and support, spontaneously offering words of acknowledgment, kindness, small gestures of affection, and physical touch that say, “I love you”. In a variety of imaginative ways, they show up, are present, notice the tiniest things, and are generous of spirit. They know better than to take things for granted.
Even couples who have been together for fifty years or more still deserve to hear the words, “Thank you”, when they have done something that has enhanced the well-being of the home or the relationship. And contrary to popular movies, love does not mean never having to say you’re sorry. They know, in fact that when you love someone, you can’t help but say “I’m sorry” when you’ve done or said something, intentionally or inadvertently that has caused pain or distress to them. They notice and express appreciation for even the smallest actions because they never take their relationship for granted.
The word “appreciation” has two definitions: “thankful recognition” and “an increase in value”. When things appreciate, they grow in value. Loving relationships embody both meanings because they not only involve expressions of thankful recognition to each other, but in doing so they are increasing the value of the relationship.
By taking advantage of the countless opportunities that present themselves on a daily basis to offer sincere gratitude through our words and behaviors, we are doing more to enhance each other’s mutual well-being than giving each other anything that money can buy. Literally!
Many of the people we’ve known and worked with who engage in acts that embody a “generosity of spirit” haven’t always been this way. They’ve learned from their experiences that “what goes around, comes around”. We refer to this understanding as “enlightened self interest” or the recognition that when I do something that is intended to enhance the well being of another, my own well-being is correspondingly enhanced. When two people in a relationship share this understanding, a positive cycle of reciprocal generosity is created which generates its own momentum and becomes self-perpetuating. When this cycle is in place, the relationship spirals upward and the sky’s the limit.