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Try This to Reinvigorate Any Relationship

Photo of Marci Sharif

~ July, 2021 ~ We know relationships require attention and care to go the distance and thrive. But we tend to wing it.

This makes sense. We’re busy. Life can be nuts.

But few things are more important than high-quality relationships, and I’m finding that for them to really flourish, regular and intentional tending to is required. Flowers need to be watered, and weeds best not be ignored for healthy gardens to grow.

We’re knee-deep in stucco repairs at our house and it’s apparent that regular maintenance is key for preserving the best working order. And what’s more important to keep in good shape than our relationships?

This is all to say that when I came across a practice for proactively nurturing stable relationships and systematically moving toward more genuine connection, my ears perked. I want do it, and I want to share it.

So, allow me to introduce a mindfulness practice called Beginning Anew. It’s a four-part process that involves regularly setting aside time (say, once a week or twice a month) to communicate in a structured way. I’ll give you the highlights.

Part one is about expressing gratitude.

Here, one at a time, each person shares what they appreciate in the other. All the good stuff in recent memory. This is fittingly called “watering the flowers.” It’s a time for positive reinforcement, for attending to beauty.

I’ve read that habitually adopting this one practice can heal and transform a relationship. It counteracts the negativity bias—where we tend to zoom in on whatever is wrong and disregard everything else. It orients us instead to become researchers of awesome in our partner.

Seeing awesome in another person is huge. As we program ourselves to more readily see and name what’s working, what’s working tends to expand. What you appreciate appreciates, they say.

Admittedly, the whole thing does err a tinge on the side of awkward.

It feels vulnerable and a little uncomfortable to dish out compliments and offer heartfelt praise. It makes me cringe to realize I’m probably more adept at doing the opposite: “Let’s talk about this problem I’m having…”

But early returns for “appreciation Monday” in our house have been positive. I can see how this has the potential to shift a landscape and it reliably makes my husband and me feel brighter and closer. He even put down his fork as I was sharing the other day. I really broke through.

From what I understand, the entire four-part practice could actually begin and end with step one alone. It’s the most critical element and the essence of the whole dang thing. But, if you choose to go further, step two is devoted to naming regrets.

A version of this article originally appeared on houstonchronicle.com

Source
houstonchronicle.com

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