Do any of these thoughts seem familiar? “Why do I feel so unsupported?” “My needs are not being met.” “He/she must think that I’m the maid . . .” “I might as well be a single parent . . .” “Other men/women give me so much more positive attention than my own partner . . .”
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If you are human and in a relationship, and have not yet made a conscious decision to love and appreciate your partner exactly as he or she is, it’s likely that this, or a variation of this inner dialogue, may feel quite typical.
When life gets stressful, often the first person we blame is our partner. If only he/she was more loving/productive/fun and the list goes on and on, then I could be happier. Sound familiar?
The irony is that when we make these types of demands on our partner, justified or not, the likely response from our significant other is withdrawal or attack. This is because instinctively the human reaction to being judged is to defend ourself or condemn the criticizer.
The bottom line is, you are not likely to experience the relief from your emotional pain that you are crying out for, when you harbor these types of resentments towards your partner.
Instead, I recommend that you appreciate your partner. Here are three crucial reasons why it’s essential that you appreciate your partner:
1. You’ll Feel Happier When You Do
It’s that simple. Love feels a whole lot better than hate, anger, judgment and criticism. No matter how right you are—no matter how justified your grievances are, when you wallow in pain and misery, you are going to feel disempowered and helpless.
Instead, assess the circumstance and come up with a plan of action. What are your must haves and where can you compromise? Come from a place of power instead of victimhood: What do I need to change in myself to make it more likely that all my needs will be met?
2. You’ll Improve Your Relationship
Appreciation goes a long way towards increasing the likelihood that your partner will want to please you more. Ironically, the more we tell a loved one everything we want him or her to change and do differently, the more likely they are to continue doing the things we dislike.
However, when we simply reward good behavior with praise and appreciation, our partner is more likely to want to continue to please us and earn our praise. Criticism and judgment push people away. Love and appreciation bring them closer. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s certainly worth cultivating the ability to look for and acknowledge all that you love and appreciate in your life partner.
3. You’ll Keep Your Partner Close
Some of us are more motivated by avoiding pain than by drawing towards us what we want. If you are a person who is more easily motivated by fear of loss, it can be helpful to realize that focusing on your partner’s flaws will eventually push him/her out the door.
In your most frustrated moments, you may think that would be best, but it would be wise to spend some time searching your deep heart to see if this is what you really want. Sometimes, we don’t realize how much we love someone until they are gone.
If after deep soul searching, you discover that you are ready to dissolve your relationship, then doing so from a place of dignity would be far better for your self-esteem. But sabotaging the relationship by peppering it with anger and condescending criticism will only create hostile ground whether you decide to stay together or not.
Make a conscious decision about what you want in your life. It may seem that your partner right now is not the fun, caring, supportive, loving, ambitious, interesting person you fell in love with. However, before you dwell on that fact, ask yourself this: Am I the same loving, caring, happy, can-do person that my partner fell in love with?
If you can’t honestly answer an emphatic, “Yes!” to that question, why not spend the next 30-90 days embodying the qualities that may be lacking, within yourself?
You may be very surprised to discover that when you are radiating patience, warmth, kindness, generosity, humor, wisdom and love, your partner may suddenly come around. And if not, what have you got to lose?
At the end of those 90 days, you will be so in love with yourself—and feel so much stronger and more empowered than you do now. From that place of empowerment, you can then re-assess your life and your relationship.
Resting in your heart right now, send yourself compassion for your current life situation. Make a commitment to yourself to be the love you seek—just for 30-90 days—or even just for today, and begin to observe how your life begins to change for the better when you undertake the challenge of appreciating your partner.