Along with ritual comes a very different approach to interacting that will fundamentally change the way your relationship unfolds.
The concept of appreciation is not new. In the Buddhism that I practice, most of the prayers mention appreciation in one form or another. This powerful but seemingly small technique allows us to keep the focus on “what is”. At some point, I will address how much time is lost and hurt feelings occur because we are rehearsing past mishaps (fuck ups).
The tool of appreciation can be implemented at any time and is most effective all the time.
I know a couple that designates evenings as the time to appreciate one another. By waiting until right before they go to sleep, two things are allowed to occur.
The first thing is the awareness that each of them has had a full days’ opportunities to be “caught” doing something loving and thoughtful. The second thing is this is what is on their minds as they drift off into sleepytime.
I have enlisted their input and now practice the same nightly interaction.
So many people watch the news, read horror tales before retiring and wonder why their dream life is torturous and they wake up feeling defeated and exhausted. Before going to sleep, my partner and I each point out three things that are appreciated by the other. In other relationships, this was rarely the focus. Many times, in previous relationships, I could tell the person I was currently seeing what he’d done to piss me off that day.
This lead to a very different type of relationship interaction.
When what is focused on is what’s good and working and special and insightful, it cuts down our tendency to gripe. It is far more difficult to gripe about a sock on the floor or a dish in the sink when he has lovingly listened to you recount a horrible childhood episode of neglect or bullying. It is difficult to focus on the keys being constantly and systematically being displaced when he reminds you of all the good you can and have done in the world.
Unlike rituals which we can unwittingly and uncousciously create, appreciation is the next step in our personal and relationship evolution.
There is no stumbling upon being appreciative.
It requires attention and noticing what is going on not what should or could be happening but what is. Nobody mistakenly pays attention. If I am offering my man or a friend some appreciations, it is because I have made the choice to “watch out for the good, look for ways that he is caring and thoughtful”.
Nobody just happens to be thoughtful and trust me when I say people notice.
Again, start small. Did he make a dessert you like or in my case remember that I enjoy cinnamon in my coffee ? Did you remember to keep a lookout for a snazzy chair for his new office ? Maybe everybody is broke and money is tight.
Not to worry. There is much you can still do.
Changing the sheets or washing a dish reminds him that he is no longer alone and no matter what happens you will figure things out together. Appreciation is the setting where everyone is seen and healthfully acknowledged.
Appreciation is deliberate and well thought out.
Everyone in relationships should read this piece ..and then keep it handy ’til the pages turn yellow and worn. There may be a time when re-reading may come in handy and will be well worth it once again. -A-
Man, this is so simple, seemingly so obvious. It makes such sense, and yet, so few of us ever pause to actually put this in place. You have laid it out perfectly, Anthony.
Clear, precise, concise, a la Hemingway!