Posts Tagged ‘expectations’

Four Ways to express Gratitude in your Relationship

February 20, 2014

Join us February 21-24 for our next Getting the Love you Want weekend couples workshop. Learn more and register on our website.

Just because Valentine’s Day is over, it doesn’t mean that you should stop expressing gratitude to your partner. Read what researcher Amie Gordon has  to say about the powerful impact gratitude has on our intimate relationships.

Re-posted from the University of California, Berkeley Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life.

It’s easy to take loved ones for granted. But my research says couples who are grateful to and for each other tend to be happier and are more likely to stay together.  Try these four science-based tips to make sure you get the most out of your acts of kindness.

1. Focus on giving, not getting

It is easy to think about all the nice things our partner will get and do for us on Valentine’s Day. But to make the most of the day, think of February 14th as a day to show your partner how much you care.

Studies have found that giving to others makes us happier than spending time and money on ourselves; my own research shows that giving as a way to express gratitude is likely to help your partner see how great you are and want to do something nice to express gratitude in return.

By focusing on giving and being grateful instead of on getting, you may find that both of you get more in the end.

2. Give them what they want

There is a disconnect between what we want as gift givers and what we want as recipients.

Research finds that when we set out to buy a gift or do something nice for someone else, we tend to think that the more money and time we spend, the better our gift will be. But when we think about what we want to receive as a gift, the price doesn’t matter as much—we are most happy just getting what we want.

Trying to surprise your partner with something she didn’t even know she wanted might feel more special to you, but to maximize gratitude, it is best to give a gift on Valentine’s Day that reflects your partner’s wishes. If you know that your partner loves the simple things like chocolates and flowers, give your partner chocolates and flowers, even if you think that’s silly and you should buy them something expensive instead.

The more your acts of kindness reflect your partner’s wishes and desires (even if they come off an Amazon wish list), the more thoughtful those gifts will be perceived to be—and thoughtful acts promote the most gratitude.

3. Do something unexpected

Expectations are the bane of gratitude. When people expect an act of kindness, such as on Valentine’s Day, they are less grateful for it.

To maximize gratitude on a day filled with high expectations, try doing something unexpected. If you never cook, then make your partner breakfast (if you know that is something he likes). If you don’t like to go out, plan a weekend away. Or surprise your partner with a sweet gift or act of kindness on another day, when expectations are low.

But beware: When people expect an act of kindness and don’t receive it, they tend to feel resentful. So if you know Valentine’s Day is important to your partner, it is best not to neglect it completely!

4. Say “thanks” for who they are

Expressing gratitude when your partner does something nice can go a long way toward boosting your relationship—but to really capitalize on the gratitude, it is best to express your thanks in a way that let’s your partner know you are as grateful for them as you are for their gift.

Sure you love those striped socks your partner got you. But rather than just gushing over how excited you are to try them on, mention how much you appreciate that your partner knows you well enough to pick out a great gift for you, and how he or she always seems to be so good at getting you exactly what you want.

The bottom line: Focusing on your partner—and not just their act of kindness—can help you remember how great they are and help them feel truly appreciated.

Dare ya:

Send your partner an email or text telling them one reason you are grateful to have them in your life. It covers all four categories!

Enjoy !

Tamara

Valentines Day…..Again

February 14, 2010

geishaboy500 / Flickr

Well folks here it is again, the day of…well, what is it to you?

This is what people tell me, and I must confess, I have thought all of these myself:

A capitalist plot. A day filled with love and gratitude. A big letdown day highlighted by unfulfilled needs and yearnings. An excuse to receive and eat chocolate.  An important day to deeply share in connection with your partner. A day in which there is some focus on romance and a good dinner out. A day a little more special than most.  The one day a year you are likely to feel really disappointed.  A day to just try to ignore.

All of these can be true depending on where your relationship is at in the present moment. It is a complex day because many people assign such significance to it and are sadly let down. Why?

I think it’s expectations.

C’mon, admit it. Don’t we all just wanna be that special someone to our partner and when our hopes and needs aren’t met just the way we want, we come crashing down, feeling hurt and rejected.

So…

Sister72 / Flickr

Here’s what I propose: DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO GO THERE. Do not, and I repeat DO NOT, have a set of unrealistic expectations you want your partner to meet (especially if you don’t even tell them what they are) and then feel terrible because they haven’t been met. And then do not, and I repeat DO NOT, go off and have a temper tantrum (quiet or loud) because once again you feel let down and just plain crappy about your love life.

Save yourself the heartache and instead try….

  • Focusing on the GIVING. Put your energy into giving something to your partner you know he or she will appreciate. Make it small and meaningful.
  • Do not let any money exchange hands to gift this.
  • Make it an unconditional gift and experience how it feels to do this in a mature way!

Get the picture? If you need some ideas here they are:

  • A massage.
  • A card you have made with a message from you about what you are grateful for about your partner.
  • A note you have made with a sweet poem you have found in a book or on the internet.
  • Sitting them down and telling them 6 things you really appreciate about them.
  • If you have kids, allow your partner to sleep in. Make breakfast for the family.
  • Try a new recipe for dinner and remember the candles on the table.
  • Ask to go for a walk and have fun: do not bring up a complaint!

Send me other ideas and we’ll add them to the list.

Keep it simple and keep it real!

Dare ya –

Work with yourself to stretch and grow-up a little more. Mentally prepare yourself to GIVE unconditionally and notice how this feels. In order to do this it takes real emotional preparation because you will be using your big brain. Your limbic system will not like it one little bit. Be curious and relax. I know you can do it!!!!!