Loving Your Partner Well: A Few Practical Tips

Loving Your Partner Well: A Few Practical Tips

Relationships can be difficult, but with a little nurture and love, they can be wonderful! That’s why here at Life’s Choices, we are passionate about providing resources and support to help you invest in your relationship. Valentine’s Day is approaching next week, and while you should love your partner all year round, we’re sharing a few practical tips in honor of Love Day.

Although loving your partner well isn’t accomplished by going through the motions of checking off a list, we think it might be helpful to begin with four common courtesies that are essential to any loving relationship. We recognize these are not the only essential components of a loving relationship, but we hope they help to provide a strong foundation.

COMMITMENT

One beautiful example of commitment is the story of John and Nellie Wooden. Blogger Justin Taylor calls the John and Nellie Wooden story “the greatest love story never told.” After the death of his wife Nellie, John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, would write her a letter every year until the day that he died.

After his wife died, John could have been free to look for another relationship — free of any responsibility to Nellie. Yet, his love for and commitment to Nellie continued until his final days.

Read more about their story here.

What is your definition of commitment? How does your level of commitment affect how you love your partner? When the going gets tough do you get going? Or like John Wooden do you persevere to go above and beyond so that not even in death do you part?

COMMUNICATION

If you want to love your partner well, it’s important to learn how to communicate well in the midst of conflict. One helpful communication model is nonviolent communication (NVC) developed by psychologist Marshall B. Rosenberg.

The four steps of NVC:

  1. Observation – Observe what we hear or see without blaming, judging or evaluating.
  2. Express your feelings –  Often we are taught to express our thoughts rather than our feelings. As a result, we may not even be aware of what we are truly feeling. The Feeling Wheel is one helpful way to match words to feelings.
  3. Express your needs – If we can get in touch with our needs and express them both to ourselves and others then our needs can be fulfilled. Here are a few needs one might have:
    • Certainty: to feel comfortable, feel safe, and feel stable; to be able to predict outcomes and feel protected.
    • Uncertainty/Variety: to have variety and unpredictability as well. It challenges us emotionally and physically and helps us learn to work through fear, conflict, and crisis.
    • Significance: to feel valued, appreciated, needed, special, and important; to know that we have purpose.
    • Love and Connection: to feel included and connected. Human beings aren’t meant to be alone, but rather to be loved and cared for.
    • Growth: to grow emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
    • Contribution: to contribute in a positive way to those around us; to help others meet their needs.
  4. Clearly explain what it is you do desire vs. what you don’t – This fourth component is one that often gets omitted in so many conversations. We tend to expect both ourselves and others to know exactly what it is that would satisfy or underlying need. The clearer our request can be, the easier it is to carry it out. 

Dr. Rosenberg formulated a helpful dialogue example:

“When I see that __________
I feel _________________
Because my need for ________________ is/is not met.
Would you be willing to _______________?

Reminder: sometimes it’s what you don’t say that matters the most. For example, our team member Charlene shared that in 43 years of marriage, her husband never made even a comment to her of how bad she looks or smells in the morning.

CONFESSION

Confession can be good for your soul. It is also a good skill to have when working to love your partner well. When you know you’ve made a mistake, be quick to confess.

Here are a few things to consider when confessing your mistakes to your partner:

  1. Do it in a private space
  2. Be humble
  3. Ask for forgiveness
  4. Ask what should be done next
  5. Don’t make the same mistake twice
  6. Explain if needed
  7. Accept the consequences

Confession can be a key factor in reconciliation if you and your significant other are having trouble. When you’re at fault, admitting and apologizing are the first steps to making things right and showing your partner you love them.

CREATIVITY

Finally, loving your partner well takes creativity! You must be in tune to their likes and dislikes. What makes them laugh? What makes them cry? What angers them? Do they prefer a physical activity or a sedentary activity? What makes them feel loved?

Become a sleuth of your partner, observing them in every way. In doing so, it will be easier to  come up with creative ways to show your partner you love them. 

Creative Idea: Take $20 a see what fun and thoughtful purchases you can make for your partner at a thrift shop! What items would mean something to them? Are there any finds that help trigger fun memories you have together? Is there any item you could enjoy using together?

Relationships take time and work to build. Did you know Life’s Choices offers free relationship classes as well as a variety of other life skills classes? If you’re seeking to grow in your relationship and find ways to be the best partner you can be, contact us today to learn more about our free classes.

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