Attention — 30 January 2012
Have you pleased your partner during the holidays? – Keep it up!

Holidays are often stressful and joyous, exhausting and fun, labor intensive and relaxing. We make all the efforts to prepare for cheers through our tears. The hard work expanded in our people-pleasing endeavors is often taxing and emotionally draining. Yet, when “a good time was had by all” – the pleasures far exceed the toil. What a wonderful motto for year round conduct.

Many of the “problems” that couples experience occur when we switch from expanding great enthusiasm and attention to the new “deal,”(the early relationship) to losing our zeal. Neither you nor your partner have changed, but both of you may have lost your focus. You began your relationship with intense “partner-centered” focus and slowly regressed to a more “self-centered” one. This change impacts your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The result can be disappointing and troubling both of you.

I believe that “anything worth having requires energy.” All inanimate objects that matter to you such as your car, your computer or your home require maintenance. Relationships also need to be cultivated. The attention in human connection needs to be reciprocal. Both parties must exhibit enthusiasm, appreciation, shared interests and have a caring concern for each other to survive and thrive.

In intimate relationships, the bond is often deeper since the welfare of each individual is intertwined with that of the other. The inter-dependency in love survives best when each mate considers the other’s needs concomitantly with his own. Unless your partner’s well-being is strongly safeguarded by you, neither one of you will fare as well.

The attempts to please each other are wise, mutually enriching and self-enhancing, just as our hard work during the holidays intends to please our guests and family. as it also bolsters our sense of well-being. The family connection, bonded experiences that are created as we share good food, traditional music and fun activities become cemented in loving memories of mutual delight. We may dread the work but cherish the resulting intimacy.

Terrence Real, in “The New Rules Of Marriage,” puts it simply, “When in doubt, Be Nice.” He adds, “Make an effort to treat your partner graciously. I’d like you to be at least a little more like you were when you wooed each other-in other words, on good behavior. Smile. Show your partner you’re happy to see him. Offer your partner the same warmth you’d offer a valued colleague or friend.”

I would add, use your holiday’s afterglow to guide you in knowing that a little effort garners a little joy and a greater effort in pleasing your mate can secure shared love for life, the best reward of all.

Use your holiday formula of efforts and rewards to:

¨     Remind you of the thrill of pleasing others as you enrich yourself.

¨     Practice accommodating behaviors daily in your love relationship.

¨     Reap the benefits of being kind to your mate as you help create a healthy and happy marriage.

 

 

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life.

Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions.

Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column “Relationship Matters” for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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