We all have to-do lists. Where do our relationships land on such lists? Sure, most folks would get indignant at this question. But, realistically speaking, this isn’t about image or wishful thinking. It’s about real life.
In reality, we often take our relationships for granted. Doing this every once in a while makes us human… and in need of advice. Doing it over and over becomes a trend that is quite dangerous to the health of the relationship.
So, why do we de-prioritize our spouses, partners, or loved ones, and how do we reverse that tendency?
How Relationships Become Lower Priority
1. The Addition of Many Other Priorities
The longer you’re alive, the more responsibilities you take on. If you have kids, a mortgage, aging parents, and concerns about your own health, well…it may feel easy to take your connections to people for granted.
2. Clever Distractions
Pick your poison: social media, video games, clicking, scrolling, and swiping. Our supposed technological advances can also set us back relationally. Though we think we’re more connected, nothing says “low priority” like giving your attention to a small screen instead of real contact and face-to-face interaction.
3. Compatibility Shifts
No one really warns us about this at the beginning of a relationship. It’s important to recognize that though love and affection often endure, compatibility is fluid. It requires diligent work to stay on the same wavelength emotionally and maintain intimacy or friendship. Ignoring this reality comes at the peril of close connections.
4. The (alleged) Dimming of Passion
With a particular focus on your significant other, it’s cliché to talk about the honeymoon phase being over when a relationship starts to stall. In the beginning, passion seems to be an endless supply. But, as time goes on, reality sets in and things change. Intimacy can be ever-evolving, but it takes commitment and communication to keep physical intimacy alive.
7 Ways to Re-establish Your Relationships as Top Priorities This Year
1. Commit to Communication
This is the foundation of trust and growth. Healthy communication is a process, not a destination. Anyone that matters to you must hear from you, talk to you, and sense that you want to hear from them in a routine and meaningful way, too.
2. Re-Invent Intimacy
For your partner, there are limitless ways to express and experience intimacy. If we accept the narrow perspective presented by a few specific acts, we are losing golden opportunities to enrich our lives and our relationships.
3. Step Away From Your Phone
In a relatively short time, we’ve come to believe we can’t live without our phones. Believe it or not, we can choose to put them away. In fact, we can live more mindfully and cooperatively by powering down those devices. Plan to meet for outings, meals or even try something novel like letter-writing and snail mail to connect with your loved ones or get to someone in a more meaningful way. Create opportunities to engage on a variety of levels.
4. Start Small (and stay small!)
“Good morning, I love you” is the perfect way to begin each new day with your spouse. Send a “just thinking of you” text or note to the friends and family whose home you drive by on the way to work. Grand gestures are lovely, but a routine of daily, loving acts is like glue for your relationships. Get creative and stay mindful of people you can connect with. Recording birthdays on your planner or phone, noting special concerns they may have shared, or committing to memory their favorite things shows others that they matter to you. Everyone loves a thoughtful gesture.
5. Practice Gratitude
Show appreciation as often as possible. Living in gratitude is a place of peace and acceptance. If someone is a high priority, don’t hesitate to tell them. Celebrate who they are and your relationship with them.
6. Try New Things Together
Add spice and variety to your connections. Invite your partner or a good friend to do new things with you. Staying compatible in the face of life may require novel activities and new memories to bring you closer.
Should Therapy Be Your Initial Priority?
Many of us want to change. But how? What happens when change is hard to obtain and maintain?
Counseling is an option designed to directly address this situation. Right off the bat, it shifts priorities. Looking internally and exploring your relationships is an important process.
Working with a professional guide is a way of prioritizing your relationship with yourself first. Then you can seek others out with more clarity, sincerity, and enthusiasm.
Take the first step…
If you’re ready to take a step toward increasing more closeness and connection in your relationships, I would like to help. Please contact me by phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT