When we’re dating, we’re often very detailed in our observations of our partner. We’re specific in our appreciation of the person’s appearance or deeds. As we get used to the relationship, we’ll forget that specific praise. You can end up taking them for granted, so you might consider going back to those old ways.
Photo by Patrick Emerson
Relationship expert Harriet Lerner, writing in Psychology Today, reminds us that the way we praise kids should apply to our partners:
It’s not good enough to tell a child, “You’re the greatest” or, “I love you so much.” Kids need to hear, “Great job sharing your toys!” or, “I think you were very brave to tell your friend how you felt when she didn’t invite you to her birthday party.”
I decided to model this behaviour myself before asking my partner to make the effort. I experimented for several months with noticing and praising him for the specific things I had stopped noticing, or had simply started taking for granted after decades of marriage: “You were so hilarious at the party last night!” etc.
The more I expressed appreciation of his special strengths, the more deeply I appreciated him. He did the same for me when I requested it, but I gained the most by being the change I wanted to see.
It’s really not that hard to make these changes. Replace “I love you” on occasion with something you love about them. Your partner will enjoy the compliment — who doesn’t like compliments? You’ll learn to appreciate your partner’s positive qualities more often.
Why ‘I Love You’ Isn’t Enough [Psychology Today]