This is the time of year when many of us are thinking a lot about gratitude. We gather together with family and friends and we give thanks for all of the blessings in our lives. Do you include your partner among that which you are grateful?
It's not always easy to feel genuine appreciation for your mate. After all, he might leave the toilet seat up. She may nag at you to fix the leaky faucet. He could habitually leave out key details of his day. She could make decisions for you. 4 Ways to Turn Your Ho-Hum Relationship into Phenomenal
We all have personality quirks and habits. Some of these are endearing and easy to love while others are downright irritating, sometimes even repulsive or upsetting. What tends to happen in a love relationship or marriage is that, initially, we mainly see the aspects in the other person that we find attractive, alluring, funny and charming.
Over time, those endearing aspects can become tiresome. The very things that initially drew us to the other person may start to feel unbearable. This isn't the way it has to be. In fact, the more genuine gratitude you can cultivate for your partner, the happier you will be, individually and as a couple. 6 Tips For A More Compassionate Relationship
You cannot force yourself to appreciate your partner. You can't put a fake smile on your face and tell him or her that you are grateful when that's not how you truly feel. What you can do is to acknowledge how you feel, what you want, and encourage yourself to open up to feeling gratitude.
Be A "Good-Finder"
If we asked you to list off your partner's most annoying habits, we bet that you'd pretty quickly be able to rattle off a decent-sized list. If we asked you to come up with some positive attributes of your partner, you may or may not be able to come up with examples as rapidly.
Invite yourself to be a "good-finder" with your partner. This means that you intentionally look for the things about your mate that you can genuinely feel appreciative of. This could take some practice on your part. It's kind of like when you've worked for hours to bake a gourmet cake from scratch. It smells great and tastes delicious, but one edge of the cake's icing is clumped up. All you can see is the clumped icing when you serve this cake to your friends. For you, it overshadows the entire cake. Are You Feeling Appreciated In Your Relationship?
If you have a tendency to pick out the one thing that annoys you about your mate, you might be fixated on his or her "clumps" and missing so much more about this person you love. Remind yourself to expand your view of your partner and to find some things that you can be grateful for.
This "good-finding" doesn't work if you're not real about it. Roots and Wings: Maximize Similarities & Appreciate Differences
We're not suggesting that you ignore it when your partner lies to you, yells at you, or says or does things that you find upsetting. Please, treat yourself with respect by being honest about the relationship changes you'd like to have happen.
Acknowledge your role in an unhealthy dynamic going on in your relationship. Reach out to your partner and talk about how it feels for you when _____ happens. If at all possible, create agreements that will bring improvement and then follow through with what was agreed upon.
Be real about how you feel. If you're unhappy in your relationship, don't gloss over your true feelings. You deserve to be satisfied and treated with kindness and love. So does your partner. How An Unhappy Marriage Can Damage Your Health
One way you can treat your partner more lovingly, by the way, is to take a wider view of who he or she is so that you see more than just the flaws. Another way you can treat your partner more lovingly is to stop pretending that certain habits aren't tearing you two apart.
Be Willing To See The Positive Aspects Of The Annoyances
There are actually positive aspects hidden among most annoying habits. These are not easy to see. If you can find and acknowledge what's potentially positive about your mate's irritating characteristics, you can usually move into a more genuinely grateful place.
Here's how this could work:
Perhaps your partner has a temper. He or she seems to fly off the handle about any little thing. It certainly can be upsetting to be in a relationship with a person like this and it might be that you decide staying with this person is not in your best interest.
If you do choose to stay in the relationship, however, you could invite yourself to find some positive aspects of your partner's temper. Here are a few:
It helps you see how destructive anger is.
It teaches you to pay attention to your own anger.
It prompts you to learn how to set boundaries.
It's leading you and your partner to talk honestly and openly about ways to communication more peacefully with one another.
When you find positive aspects of your partner's annoying habits, this doesn't mean that those habits are suddenly okay with you or pleasing to you. What it does is help you see more than just your annoyance. It helps you know that your partner can be irritating at times, and that there is more to him or her and the situation than just the irritation. Are You Guilty Of These Annoying Couple Habits?
This is the place where gratitude can come in and literally transform you and your relationship.
*If you are being abused in any way, take it seriously and decide whether staying in the relationship is healthy and wise for you. Don't allow the mistreatment to continue.
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the relationship they desire. Click here to get their free ebook, Passionate Heart-Lasting Love.