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The Key to a Happy Partnership

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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistFebruary 24, 2021

You want your own happily-ever-after. You might have been dreaming of it since childhood. Although no real-life relationship can match fairytale endings, many people do enjoy happy marriages and partnerships that last decades. For all the advice on relationships -- and there is a lot of good advice out there, there is one tip that stands above all the rest: Never lose sight of the importance of connecting with your love and caring for each other -- and showing it.

Right from the beginning, this means choosing a partner who shows their love in a way that feels nurturing. If your partner is the quiet type, they might show their love by attending to your needs. If this attention feels nurturing, then it will help your relationship thrive. However, if your partner loudly proclaims their love with a possessiveness that feels smothering, then the relationship will eventually be smothered, too.

When the newness of your relationship loses its sparkle, you may become more focused on the “things” or “activities” of daily life. In doing this, you might find that your love moves increasingly to the periphery of your attention. It may even be left behind as the weeks, months, and years pass.

For this reason, it is important to remind yourself of what you value in your spouse and be sure to express it on a regular basis. You can do this in any number of ways. You might just say it, text a heart emoji, touch them affectionately, cook their favorite food, surprise them with something you know they’ll like, or anything else you can think of. If you find yourself thinking that you don’t need to show that you care because they know it, you are headed in the wrong direction. People don’t know they are loved or appreciated unless it is communicated to them.

There will be times when you disagree, argue, or just get on each other’s nerves. Bringing your love front and center is essential especially at these times. Whenever I work with couples in therapy, the first order of business is to help them rediscover the warm feelings they have for each other. The details of their disagreements are almost always secondary to this. When you can listen to your spouse, understand, and empathize with their distress, you will feel moved to ease their pain. This is true even if you continue to disagree with them and remain committed to wanting the very thing that is upsetting them. And if you have upset your spouse, showing your love for them can help them feel cared about and move them toward opening up to you again. And when you both feel cared about, you can then begin the process of talking about your differences with the goal of finding a way to recognize what you both want. (To further explore this, check out my brief video)

Of course, people sometimes grow apart. Their values change. When they no longer fit together, they may be served best by parting ways. But if you remain committed to prioritizing your love for each other, you will also remain committed to each other’s happiness throughout your relationship. By prioritizing your caring, you have a better chance of growing together, and you will work together to make the best of your relationship.

 

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About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

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