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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