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Keeping the Newness in Your Relationship

your relationship

It’s amazing how fast something new can become routine. We start a new job, make a new friend, or learn a new skill, and two weeks later it’s just part of our life.  Have you ever marveled at how fast that sense of newness can wear off?

When you buy a new car, how often do you wash it and then stand back just to admire its design? How about six months later, does it still get the same amount of attention? You see what I mean? We get used to things really fast. This is how adaptability works. But there are areas of life where keeping that sense of newness can really add to our quality of life, especially in a relationship.

Is there a downside to being so adaptable?

The problem with adaptability is that once the newness wears off, it’s real easy to start taking things (and people) for granted. That shiny new car that we thought so much of becomes last year’s model. That exciting new job becomes the grind. And if we aren’t careful, that amazing new relationship starts to get way less appreciation than it deserves.

Of course, we all like to think “that’s not going to happen,” especially when it comes to that special relationship. But it does happen, and we’ve all seen it happen. Maybe it’s even happened to you! That’s where the old saying comes from: “I never realized what I had until I lost it.” They did realize how important the relationship was, but by then it was too late.

Keeping the newness in your relationship!

What is it that allows us to continue appreciating a relationship, even after the newness wears off? Really, it boils down to two important things – GRATITUDE and FOCUS. And the secret here is that one feeds the other. If you focus on the wonderful qualities of someone, then you can’t help but feel grateful for having them in your life. And if you are grateful, then you will take the time to focus on their wonderful qualities. See how that works?

Just so you know, this also works the other way around, so be careful. The more you focus on someone’s imperfections, the more fault you will find and the less gratitude you will feel. So if you want to keep your relationship alive with feelings of appreciation and gratitude, focus on the good and avoid fault finding. In reality, we all have plenty of faults and we appreciate it when others don’t shine a spotlight on ours.

Take a look at your own relationship appreciation levels

Are there important aspects of your life that aren’t receiving the level of appreciation they deserve? We could ask this question with regard to people or material possessions. Even though the concept applies equally to both, I will focus on people for the moment. For some reason, familiarity can easily obscure our estimation of the people closest to us.

Here are 5 strategies we can use to avoid the tendency to take a relationship for granted.

1. Remember. You are in this relationship for one or more reasons. Do you remember what qualities attracted you to them in the first place? How often do you take the time to appreciate those special qualities? Remembering why that person came to be part of your life can help keep your appreciation for them alive and healthy.

2. Recount. As long as you are thinking about how special your relationship is, why not mention it? Not only will your partner appreciate your expressions, but verbalizing your positive feelings will also serve to reinforce them in your heart. Our nervous system takes many of its cues from the words that come out of our own mouths.

3. Notice. Do you still notice the many ways that those special qualities manifest themselves? It’s entirely possible to remember what attracted you to that person, and still fail to notice their current expressions of those same qualities. Living in the moment helps us to really see how valuable a relationship is to us. Appreciation is a real time activity.

4. Respond. We respond with appreciation through personal interaction. When someone you care about is doing something that you appreciate, can they sense your approval? Does your response send a clear message of approval and appreciation? Whether it’s a smile, an appreciative comment, or a helping hand, feed your relationship with positive feedback and other signs of approval.

5. Attitude. Do you have the attitude of gratitude for those special people in your life? Do you count them among your blessings? If so, then the four steps above will come easily and naturally for you. However, if it’s a struggle for you, try spending some time each day thinking about how grateful you are to have this relationship in your life, and why. Never underestimate the power of gratitude.

In a relationship, newness is all about perception

Familiarity does not need to diminish our level of wonder and appreciation. My wife and I have been together for almost 26 years, and I am still in awe over how amazing she is. In my heart that sense of newness is still alive because I can never quite get used to the fact that I am in this relationship with such a wonderful and amazing person.

We can all cultivate this kind of relationship appreciation. Applying the 5 strategies above will help you keep things new while avoiding the tendency to take anything, or anyone, for granted.

Has your relationship appreciation lessened over time?
Would your relationship improve by following these 5 tips?
The lines are open!

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Ladies, want to know how to rewire your man’s brain so he will pay more attention to you and treat you better? You’ll want to read this article.

41 Comments

  1. Steven Aitchison September 14, 2009 Reply

    You really are an inspiration Jonathan. I totally get how much you love your wife and how you are amazed that she is in your life, I feel exactly the same way. I honestly sit at my computer every morning at around 5am and list, mentally, the wonderful things in my life, my wife, my children, extended family and I truly adore my wife in every way.

    Loved this post. Thank you.

    • Jonathan September 14, 2009 Reply

      Well Steve, I’d say we both have a lot to be thankful for. It’s truly gratifying to hear other men make these kind of heartfelt expressions about their wives. Marriage done right is such a blessing.

  2. Mark Lewis September 14, 2009 Reply

    Your point about focusing on someone’s good qualities, rather than their imperfections, is so true. I myself have realized the latter which fortunately allowed me to turn the focus around.

    I don’t think you have to compromise your ability to adapt for the sake of newness, which I’m glad you did not suggest.

    • Jonathan September 14, 2009 Reply

      Hi Mark, thanks for joining in. I would never suggest that we compromise our ability to adapt. It is, in fact, one of our greatest assets. I also know that you are a master of adaptation, both physically and emotionally. My point was simply that, unless we keep our wits, it’s easy to slip into the trap of taking things for granted.

      • Mark Lewis September 15, 2009 Reply

        Indeed, and I think your relationship example demonstrated your point very well.

  3. Karlil September 14, 2009 Reply

    This is truly a great article Jonathan. Adapt in my opinion is the single most important skill to have. Changes come and go. There is not a single person in life that do not experience change. Loss of family members, breakups, getting laid from a full time job, there are simply too many to list. I guess we in part, we are lucky to adapt to new change, just like you said in the article. However, emotional pain that comes with the change may not be cured easily.

    • Jonathan September 24, 2009 Reply

      Hey Karlil, how’s it going? You are so right about change. In fact, when we really look, we realize that life is defined by change. Sometimes it is painful for the moment, but even pain can help us grow. I actually think that some of the greatest personal growth is initiated by a painful experience that causes us to reorganize our internal perception of reality.

  4. Stephen September 14, 2009 Reply

    Wonderful post Jonathan. I know this doesn’t necessarily fit the ideal people like to hold in their mind, but I think there is another factor for me (I’ve been married 29 years).

    When I was young and blinded by crazy love, I had certain ideas and expectations about what someone else should be like. After 29 years it is an accepting love that accepts that she is her own person. Since I don’t expect her to be a certain way, it’s not a problem when she’s not. I try to apply this to all my close relationships, including my daughter. It allows me to totally accept them and love them for who they are.

    Great job and those are outstanding tips. Us “mature” guys have learned something in all these years I guess :-)

    • Jonathan September 14, 2009 Reply

      Hey Stephen, nice comment man. I just went and read your latest post on the power of small things. I loved it!

  5. Jerry Graham September 14, 2009 Reply

    This is about the best marriage counseling advice that can be offered up. You can’t “fall out of love” if you stay focused on what drew you together in the first place. I often suggest this to clients — make a list of the features that you were attracted to in your spouse. Put the list on a 3 x 5 card (or two or three) and carry them with you. As soon as you recognize a negative thought in your head regarding your spouse, pull out the card(s) and start reading. It’s amazing! Thanks for the great post, Jonathan.

    • Jonathan September 14, 2009 Reply

      Hi Jerry, focus truly is a big part of attitude. The beauty of focus is that we can control it. Yes, we may have to use some reminders at times, like the 3X5 cards, but that’s a pretty easy fix for something so important. Thanks for your input, appreciated.

  6. Ching Ya September 14, 2009 Reply

    Now this is an eye opener! I’m guilty as charged for not appreciating more things and efforts around me. I would have to say I hope I can be more aware of the love and care from my family members. Sometimes a little loving gesture may be treated as ‘a supposed act’, in fact we shall be grateful to them as they’re the ones who always by our sides no matter what circumstances. Even our spouses as well.

    No one is obligated to sacrifice for us, but they do; no one is responsible to be nice and friendly to us, but some do; No one shall be taken from granted in fact.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

    • Jonathan September 14, 2009 Reply

      Hi Ching, I am afraid we we all need reminders from time to time. Life is like a boat on the open sea, we need to make constant adjustments to stay on course.

  7. Zuzanna M September 14, 2009 Reply

    Hello, Jonathan

    This is such a wonderful article that I am in awe reading it!
    You have hit the nail in the head right on what you have written in these particular lines. It is all about Gratitude and Focus. Love this so much!

    “What is it that allows us to continue appreciating something, or someone, even after the newness wears off? Really, it boils down to two important things – GRATITUDE and FOCUS. And the secrete here is that one feeds the other. If you focus on the wonderful qualities of someone, then you can’t help but feel grateful for having them in your life.”

    Thank you for sharing your life experiences and wisdom.
    Your blog shines with knowledge.

    Sincerely,
    Zuzanna

    • Jonathan September 14, 2009 Reply

      Hi Zuzanna, I am so glad you liked it. Thanks you so much for your kind words and continued support.

  8. Zeenat September 15, 2009 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,
    Now this is a post on true realities. I loved how you brought small examples subtly in to bring the point across. Focus and gratitude indeed are the most important qualities we each must cultivate. And once mastered, everyone and every moment and everything will continue to be amazing and wonderful always.
    I cherish my husband so much. Everyday I learn something new about him and everyday he can surprise me with his loving and giving nature. Theres never a dull moment in our marriage thankfully :)

    • Jonathan September 15, 2009 Reply

      Hi Zeenat, I love to hear successful marriage stories. Seems like the failed marriages get all the attention. I was hoping that this article would bring out some positive comments on marriage, and it certainly has. Thank you!

  9. Rocket Bunny September 15, 2009 Reply

    I think marriage has improved my growth as a person. You learn to take the good times with the times that are not so good and put it into perspective. When something happens you can appreciate the good times more.
    Things are far from boring and we grow and learn more from each other everyday.

    I really like this post a lot.

    • Jonathan September 15, 2009 Reply

      Bunny, I feel the same way. My marriage has made me want to be a better person. When we truly care for our mate it motivates us to become more. And when both people feel that way, personal growth becomes a wonderful shared experience. As the individuals grow, so does the depth of the relationship.

  10. Vin September 15, 2009 Reply

    I’m not as adaptable as I’d like to be, but I’m pretty good about being grateful for what I have. It’s interesting how there’s a tendency to be one way or the other.

    I can totally relate to what you said about your marriage. I’ve been with my wife for 10 years and appreciate our relationship more than ever. It’s so common for marriages to go stale after a while and it’s really sad to see. Marriage is a perfect example of why we need to put forth a lifelong effort to practice what you’ve suggested in this article.

    • Jonathan September 15, 2009 Reply

      Well said Vin, and congratulations on your first decade of marriage. Make sure your wife sees your comment, they love it when we declare our appreciation to the whole world.

  11. Carla September 15, 2009 Reply

    Keeping things new and exciting in terms of personal relationships is a real art and a great challenge for two loving people. I wish we all knew how to do that successfully and be always happy with our partners…

    • Jonathan September 24, 2009 Reply

      It’s definitely a goal worth pursuing Carla, because the reward is well worth the effort.

  12. Walter September 15, 2009 Reply

    You have elaborated it well here. I was struck by your suggestion of gratitude and focus. You made a very enlightening point here. I will try to remember this when I take my loved ones for granted (which I do most of the time). Focus is powerful when working with our dreams, when our effort becomes routine we lose our excitement and stop pursuing. So must keep our focus strong. :-)

    • Jonathan September 16, 2009 Reply

      Hey Walter, thanks for commenting. When something is routine we tend to switch to automatic pilot so we can focus on other things. This is a normal response. Obviously, it’s not always a response that serves our better interests.

  13. Robin Easton September 15, 2009 Reply

    Wow, I’m late turning up here. I love this post. It hits into a strong way of being for me. I simply LOVE to let people come and go and be who they are and am easy as they change and grow and really am able to take them as they are each day. I am grateful that I truly do see them as their own person, someone who was not put on this Earth to meet all my demands. In fact I thrive on seeing and experiencing them forever new. Wonderful post Jonathan, just beautiful.

    • Jonathan September 16, 2009 Reply

      Hi Robin, glad you liked it. You seem to enjoy people as much as anyone I have ever known, that’s a truly admirable quality. I must admit though, I was sort of expecting you to tell us how wonderful your husband is.

      • Robin Easton September 17, 2009 Reply

        Well, I could EASILY do that. LOL!! And surprisingly contemplated it (so I laughed out loud when you wrote this) but what I would have said would have been a page long. I know you don’t mind, but I still hate to hog all your space. I could easily say this though, my husband is the most compassionate, wise loving person I’ve ever known. He NEVER and I mean N…E…V…E…R judges anyone. I’ve been with him for years and never heard him say a mean-spirited thing about anyone. And it is REALLY genuine. I am often very humbled by his way of being. So very very kind. And the goofiest person I’ve EVER known!!! LOL See? If I don’t stop I will go on and on. Oh! And he holds no grudges and forgives all things, but then he says I am the same way. So we make an amazing team. We are at peace with each other and the world. Such a gift in my life makes me know all things are possible. Thank you dear Jonathan.

        • Jonathan September 17, 2009 Reply

          That’s more like it! I knew he was in line for some commendation. Robin, never feel like you need to shorten your comments, I buy extra band width in hopes that you will use it.

          • Robin Easton September 17, 2009 Reply

            OMG, I am laughing my face off right now. You are a serious HOOT!! Yes, extra band width. That’s the ticket. Now we’re cookin’!!! LOL!!! :)

  14. Jeanine Cowan September 16, 2009 Reply

    Hi, I appreciate how succinctly and clearly you drew the connection between adaptability and taking things for granted. As one who embraces, welcomes and seeks change, I only recently realized my tendency to forget to appreciate and have gratitude for situations and people. To remind myself of the importance of NOT taking things for granted, I came up with this statement “Show your A.G.E.” A for appreciation, G for gratitude and E for empathy. My life is infinately better for it.

    • Jonathan September 16, 2009 Reply

      Hi Jeanine, I think you chose the right word here, “forget.” It’s rarely a lack of appreciation that keeps progressive people from expressing their gratitude. More often it’s just a matter of being caught up in other things and forgetting. We all do it on occasion and these reminders serve us well because we always need to work on balance. Thanks for joining the conversation and teaching us the acronym A.G.E.

  15. Julian September 16, 2009 Reply

    This is good stuff. In my job I have to give the same information to different people every day. It can be extremely repetitive. I deal with it by focusing on connecting with the people I’m talking with. So rather than just giving a presentation in autopilot mode, I try to make a real connection with the people I’m talking to and present the information in a way that is meaningful to them. This makes a repetitive job very enjoyable and challenging.

    • Jonathan September 17, 2009 Reply

      Hi Julian, what a great approach! I am sure the people you are connecting with can feel the personal interest you show, and they no doubt respond to it.

  16. Dr. Jennifer Howard September 17, 2009 Reply

    Dear Jonathan,

    Yes, I have noticed through the years that as our ego heals and integrates we are more flexible and adaptable to natural changes that happen in our lives. Being ahead of a trend is very helpful, especially when its connected to your deepest calling.

    As a psychotherapist for over 20 years, I have seen with my clients that if they have a large issue with the “newness” wearing off it is often connected to some avoidance of feelings.

    Yes, gratitude is very important and when we can live from a deeper integration we feel gratitude about everyone and everything.

    So nice to connect to you again,

    Dr. Jennifer Howard

    • Jonathan September 17, 2009 Reply

      Hi Jennifer, How nice to have you join the conversation.

      For my readers, Dr. Jennifer is one of my favorite psychotherapist and I highly recommend you take the time to visit her site and get to know her work.

  17. jonathan fgaro September 17, 2009 Reply

    Appreciation and Gratitude is all we need to think about on a daily basis to reach the pinnacles of our success on any and every level!

    My favorite quote
    ” To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.”

    Albert Schweitzer:

    • Jonathan September 17, 2009 Reply

      Nice quote Jonathan, thanks for sharing it with us!

  18. S. Yvon Harper September 23, 2009 Reply

    Great lesson for us to reflect on not just daily, but moment by moment.

    • Jonathan September 24, 2009 Reply

      Life is a moment by moment experience, that’s how it is lived. Thanks Yvon!

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