Keep the Sparks Alive in Your Relationship by Putting the Other Person First

Heather Spurrell Building Connection and Intimacy, Manage Relationships Powerfully, Relationship Rulebook

By: Heather Spurrell

It’s Friday afternoon, you’re wrapping up your workday, and you’re feeling goooood. Your co-workers are all headed out a little early for happy hour and they keep bugging you about joining them. But you’re not interested. In fact, you can’t wait to get home! 

Why?

Because you know that in 4 hours and 32 minutes you’re going to see your new crush again! You’ve been waiting all week (you both have busy schedules after all) so it’s taken some extra coordinating to make tonight work, and you can’t wait! 

  • Outfit that makes you feel like a rockstar – 
  • Reservation at a great restaurant – 
  • Tidied house – 
  • Favourite bottle of wine
  • Clean sheets –
  • Their favorite breakfast food in the fridge –
  • Impeccable personal grooming  – ✓✓

You’ve been seeing this person for a few months now, and you’re hooked! You know you’re into them, and they’re into you too. It’s blissful! You’re happier, more relaxed and easy going. Your friends even comment on how much more fun you are these days.

Love… ain’t it grand? It can build us up and make us better people when we’re falling into it.  Fast forward 4 years and 32 days and it might not be the same story on a Friday night – right?  Things are probably a little more relaxed, and that’s a good thing – right? 

It is, as long as you’re still putting the other person first in other ways… 

Great Relationships Happen When You Consistently Put Your Partner’s Needs and Feelings as a Priority.

It’s human nature to slip into the path of least resistance and do whatever is easiest… it’s normal and happens to the best of us. Especially when you’re looking at a long period of time – that’s why your relationships look so different at the end than they did in the beginning.

The thing is, if you want to have your relationship thrive over the long haul, you’ve gotta put in consistent effort. As Tony Robbins says: “If you do what you did in the beginning of the relationship there won’t be an end.”

It’s like going to the gym, you don’t go once in a while and expect to feel good about yourself. Feeling strong and physically fit doesn’t happen with quarterly visits, you have to go regularly and be intentional about the effort you’re putting into your workouts.

Same deal for your relationships – if you want it to feel good (and have good ‘sexy-time’) in the long run, you have to put in the effort.

Put the Other Person First for Better Relationships

What Does It Mean To Put Your Partner’s Needs and Feelings as a Priority?

Let’s be honest, most of us haven’t really thought about this with any intentionality. When we think about putting our partner’s needs as a priority, what usually happens is:

  1. We put our own agenda first.
  2. Then if our partner kinda-sorta gets what they want, that’s good enough.

Unfortunately, that won’t work to create strong, connected, and committed relationships with any depth. Taking time to consider how your actions and decisions affect your partner is key to establishing a harmonious and positive culture in your relationship.

Putting your partner’s needs and feelings as a priority means you think about what you can give to the relationship vs. what you can get from it.

We live in a “what about me” culture where we are conditioned to focus on making sure our needs get met. Over time we’ve learned that if we don’t look out for Number 1, no one will. We’ve brought that culture into our relationships, and it’s unsustainable if having a meaningful connection is important to you.

In great relationships, both parties are responsible for regularly thinking: “how will this affect my partner?” It may feel counterintuitive, but when you give generously to your partner for the sake of giving and without expectation (your time, your love, your kindness, and your consideration) your partner has the experience of receiving. When your partner regularly has the experience of receiving (having their needs met) they will be more likely to generously give to you.

It is important to keep in mind that giving with the intention to receive isn’t actually giving at all. It’s doing something in order to get your needs met. It’s still very self-focused and will not create a culture of generosity in your relationship.

When you create a culture of generosity in your relationship your needs will naturally get met. In this case, that means the focus is on “how can I contribute to my partner/ this relationship” vs. “what can I get from my partner/ this relationship”. What’s beautiful about this is your needs are met in a more fulfilling and loving way than you imagined.

A Culture of Giving Instead of a “What About Me” Focus Creates Long-Term Happiness and Satisfaction in Your Relationship

Dr. John Gottman and his research has shown that maintaining a positive culture nurtures friendship in the relationship. He says: “The difference between the Masters of relationships and the Disasters is that they are gentle, kind, and considerate of each other’s feelings.” 

Don’t you want to be a Relationship Master??

3 Questions to Ask Yourself:

  1. How will what I’m doing (or not doing) affect my partner, their feelings, and the relationship as a whole?
  2. Is what I believe I want or need in the best interest of the relationship?
  3. What can I do in this situation that would make a difference for my partner?

There are a lot of nuances that make up great relationships most of us haven’t even thought about before. There weren’t any classes in school that taught us how to ‘do’ relationships well. Yet relationships are one of the most important and impactful experiences in our lives.

You deserve to be happy and fulfilled in your relationships and this series of articles can teach you how to do that. Follow along as we continue to dig into the Relationship Rulebook and discover the foundational tools for building relationships that work. If you haven’t already…

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