“Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts.” – John Gottman
The holidays are nearing, which often means many of us will spend more time with family and friends. For some, it’s an exciting season and a time to rejuvenate. Conversely, you may feel nervous or anxious as you and your partner combat time with each of your families. So how can you both make the most out of the upcoming holidays? Drs. John and Julie Gottman believe that part of a successful relationship is increasing the positives through small words and actions. You can implement these positives by expressing gratitude through fondness and admiration.
What are Fondness and Admiration?
There are many definitions and cultural perspectives regarding fondness and admiration. We will be honing in on the Gottman Methods’ thoughts around fondness and admiration for our purposes. In essence, fondness and admiration occur when partners make emotional deposits in one another’s emotional bank accounts. This means:
- reigniting the compliments for one another
- expressing respect and love
- reemploying affection
When couples stop expressing fondness and admiration for one another, one or both partners may feel like the love in their relationship has left. Several factors could contribute to this feeling of love loss. The couple may have stopped building into one another’s love banks for reasons like trauma, infidelity, stress, or general distance as a young family with young children or becoming empty nesters. However, the love may not have entirely left the relationship; the couple can rekindle their love with some emotional deposits.
With the stress of the holidays upon us, could you carve out time to be intentional with your partner and build up one another’s love banks? You can initiate this process by dedicating time when you and your partner can be present with one another. Research illustrates the importance of spending 20-30 minutes connecting with your partner each day. Starting this practice of gratitude now will allow you to fill the other ten months of the year with fondness and admiration.
Additionally, there are some practical ways to put fondness and appreciation into practice. Below are two possible ways to cultivate connection time with your partner daily, during the holiday season or throughout the year. The goal is to appreciate one’s partner for who they are with a posture of gratitude and positive expression rather than communicating what is lacking.
2 Exercises to Incorporate Fondness and Appreciation in Your Relationship
Reigniting the passion between a couple and expressing love and respect may seem daunting. Most couples tend to be at a loss of how to bridge the gap of distance and work toward that kinetic spark again. While a quick fix may be what couples want, there is such importance in building a culture of appreciation in one’s relationship for sustaining love for years to come. Part of having fondness and appreciation for one’s partner means being intentional with one another’s emotional love banks.
Drs. John and Julie Gottman share the “magic ratio” for a healthy couple’s positive to negative interactions: the 5:1 Ratio. Satisfied couples prioritize the positive interactions in their relationship over the negative. When a couple prioritizes positive over negative interactions, they amplify the respect and appreciation within their relationship. The earned and demonstrated mutual respect also serves as a preventative measure against contemptuous behaviors in the couple’s relationship like showing appreciation, giving compliments, asking curious questions, and thinking of one’s partner.
I Appreciate Exercise
The I Appreciate… exercise allows couples to consider the attributes they most admire in their partner, not for what they do, but for who they are. It can be meaningful to select a quality you appreciate about your partner. You can share your thoughts through a compliment as it pertains to a specific event, or you could share numerous appreciations every week. This may sound like, “I appreciate how reliable you are. It was so helpful to know that when my plans changed for carpool this week that I was able to know that you could pick up the boys from soccer practice.”
7-Week Journal of Fondness and Admiration
The 7 weeks of fondness and admiration from The Seven Principles For Making Marriages Work gives you a thought and task each day over 7 weeks. The focus is building your emotional love bank by thinking differently about your partner and acting on those thoughts. Each thought and associated task will typically take 5 to 10 minutes daily. As you progress through the weeks, you may notice that you want to give the thought or task of the day more attention and spend more time thinking of or planning with your partner. The gradual shift can help you see more positives in your partner and give you the framework to appreciate them authentically.
Are you craving fondness and appreciation in your relationship?
The exercises above are just two ways to cultivate a culture of appreciation in your relationship. While expressing fondness and admiration year-round is the goal, it may seem daunting to jump in during the next few weeks. Our clinicians can help you and your partner rekindle through therapy. If you are ready to schedule an appointment and live in Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Texas, we can help. Contact us to get started.