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How to Love: 14 Ways to Be a More Loving Partner

How to Love: 14 Ways to Be a More Loving Partner

Most people mistakenly think that love is a feeling. Here’s the thing, they have it all wrong.

“You mean it’s not?” Gasp! “But when I see him, I feel butterflies, my heart flutters, and my knees buckle. If that’s not love, then what is it?” Those may be physical feelings, yes, but those feelings don’t amount to genuine love.

In order to be more loving, you have to understand what love truly is. It’s not just a feeling. It’s a Commitment. It’s an Action. It’s a Decision.

Those initial feelings–the butterflies, the heart flutters, and the buckling knees, are all part of “falling in love.” It’s like a knee-jerk reaction. It’s not planned, and it doesn’t last. It’s a short honeymoon period that ends if the relationship lasts for any length of time.

It’s understandable why we’re confused about love. Hollywood has put a spell on us. They have us believe that two people can fall in love in hours (look at The Sun is Also a Star ); or days (look at Titanic), or through emails (look at You’ve Got Mail), and a host of other spell-binding ways. But that’s not true love!

True, genuine love begins after the spell wears out, after the honeymoon ends and real life begins. This is great news! If we know that actually loving someone starts at the end of the buckling knees, then we’re prepared, we don’t give up. We don’t think, “Oh, no, it’s over! My heart doesn’t flutter anymore, and the butterflies? What butterflies?”

If you’re currently in a relationship that you feel is circling the drain, or one in which love has flown the coop, or so you think, then you’ve got a nice surprise coming. It doesn’t have to be over!

Read on and learn some of the doable ways in which you can learn how to love — become more loving, win your partner back, and enjoy a satisfying relationship. Once you know what genuine love looks like, it will be easy to implement.

You might be thinking, This is too good to be true. And that’s fine, you can’t always help what you think.

But here’s the thing, it isn’t too good to be true. You can become a more loving partner by applying the following suggestions to your relationship.

Are you ready to become a more loving partner? You look ready to me. Let’s go!

1. Commit to Your Relationship

Decide that you are going to be in the relationship; that you are going to work toward its growth; that you will nourish it to the best of your ability.

Without that commitment, you don’t have the necessary foundation to build a loving relationship. That is why this first step is crucial.

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If you have that commitment, read on.

NOTE: It’s never too late to make a decision to commit.

2. Invest Time

The workaholic who works 60 hours a week might say, “I love my family so much. I’m working hard to provide for them.” That’s not love. Remember, love is not a feeling; it’s not words. It’s an action that you decide to take.

M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book, The Road Less Traveled, states,

“…love is an action, an activity.”

One of the most important ways to demonstrate love is to spend time with the person you love. After all, time is our most prized possession. You show someone you love them by spending quality time with them.

If you want to become more loving, find time every day to connect with your loved one. You can do this with a text, a phone call, or a lunch date. Be creative.

3. Communicate Your Love

There are countless and effective ways to do this. When my husband notices I’m in a hurry, he makes the bed for me in order to give me a few additional minutes in the morning. If I run out of a certain food I love, he stops at the store to pick it up; he saves the last of anything for me. If he never said the words I love you, I would still know he does. Clearly, his actions are speaking loudly.

Find ways to communicate your love through action. Bring home a treat, do the dishes, make dinner, leave a note in his favorite coffee mug, etc. Before he leaves for the gym, my husband takes off his chain and sets it on his nightstand. When he’s not around, I shape the chain into a heart and leave it for him to find. It always puts a smile on his face when he does. You get the idea.

As a writer, one of my favorite guidelines is, show, don’t just tell. By doing this, the writer provokes a reaction from their readers, helps them feel the emotion the character is feeling. This works in real life as well.

Take an action, however small, that SHOWS your partner you love them.

4. Be Spontaneous

Relationships can fall into ruts. Years together can dull the excitement felt in the beginning when everything is new. It doesn’t have to stay that way.

Spontaneity can liven any relationship. Imagine yourself walking into the kitchen, wondering what to make for dinner, not feeling like cooking at all. Suddenly, your husband walks in and says, “Take off that apron, I’m taking you out to dinner.” How would you feel? I don’t know, but I’m guessing you’d want to jump for joy.

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Or you come home, see your partner sitting in front of the TV and say, “Let’s go, I’ve made reservations at a great Air B&B. Pack your bags.”

Spontaneity adds a thrill to any relationship. Try surprising your partner this week!

5. Acknowledge the Thoughtful Things Your Partner Does

One of the ways to be a more loving partner is to acknowledge all your partner does for you. You might be taking your partner for granted and not even realizing it.

Do you thank them for doing the laundry, walking the dog, making dinner, doing the dishes, working out, replacing the soap and shampoo before it runs out, etc? There are a million little things that keep a home going, and it’s easy to forget that someone is doing it. Acknowledge it.

My husband had just taken a shower one day when he said, “Thank you! I never have to worry that I won’t have shampoo, or soap. It’s always there. I really appreciate that.” I felt warm and fuzzy after hearing that. It made me feel very appreciated. Your partner will too.

6. Be Supportive

When I decided to go back to school to become a therapist, it would mean a great deal of sacrifice. I would eventually have to quit my job; come up with tuition money, and devote time for studying. My husband said, “You’ll make a great therapist. We’ll make it work.”

When I decided to write The Healing Alphabet, 26 Empowering Ways to Enrich Your Life, my husband said, “I can’t wait to read it. People will love it.” When I decided to cut my long hair, my husband said, “You’ll look really cute with short hair.” He has been supportive throughout our 33 years together. That support demonstrates his love.

In what ways can you be supportive to your partner? Maybe it’s supporting a hobby they have, or wishing them a fun girl’s day out, or being there for every music recital, etc. When you’re supportive, your partner will feel like they can’t fail. It will provide the encouragement they need to keep going and have fun at the same time.

7. Provide Space

Clinginess can ruin a relationship. Too much of anything can be deleterious to its survival. Yes, it’s good to spend time together. In fact, I recommend it, but it’s also good to find a healthy balance.

Providing space means you allow your partner to express himself/herself in the way they enjoy. Allowing your partner time with friends and family is important. You don’t have to be by their side 24/7. In the article 10 Signs You’re in a Healthy Relationship by Scott Christ, he writes,

“We all need time to explore, reflect, and express ourselves individually.”

Create a space for your partner so that they can express their creativity. Let them be them without you. Remember, they were someone long before you came along.

8. Take the Good with the Bad

A good relationship takes a lot of work. The day you married your partner, you probably thought you’d hit the jackpot by marrying the most perfect being on this earth. That day, you didn’t think about the fact they kept you awake snoring, laughed like a hyena, scratched the wrong places in public, chewed with their mouths open, and who knows what else. You were just thinking about the trip to Bora Bora, how beautiful she looked in the dress, how handsome he looked in the tux, and what pretty babies you’d eventually have…

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But like I mentioned earlier, the honeymoon will end. It always does. And then you’re left with the real stuff: the smelly socks on the floor, the dirty mugs in the sink, the crumbs on the kitchen table, etc.

Of course, I’m painting a bad picture. Maybe none of this has happened to you, and after 15 years you still feel like you hit the jackpot. Congratulations!

For the rest of you, understand that there’s no perfection. It doesn’t exist. Yes, your partner is going to annoy you. You probably annoy your partner. If you want to be more loving, look past the imperfections. Find a way to see it as quirky. It’s part of who they are, what makes them them. According to Jeff Auerbach, Ph.D, in his book, Irritating the Ones You Love, he writes,

“We may not be able to change who we fundamentally are, but we can do the best that’s possible with what we have.”

And that goes for both people in the relationship. Neither one of you is perfect. Be more loving by accepting the not so appealing, and bask in all the goodness they do provide.

9. Avoid Put Downs

Here’s the thing, when you’re in a relationship, you pretty much know everything about your partner–the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s easy to resort to put downs when you’re angry and upset about something they’ve done.

For example, let’s suppose they’re late for a movie. It happens. Don’t start in with, “Late again?! Jeez, you’re never on time, you moron!” Or, “No wonder your parents are disappointed by you!” Or “It’s a pleasure to meet the poster child for lateness!” And on and on.

What are you trying to accomplish? It certainly doesn’t sound like you’re having a constructive discussion. It actually sounds like a war in progress.

We have enough strife in the world. Don’t allow it to infiltrate your home. Speak with respect. Let love be the motivator, not pettiness.

10. Be Willing to Compromise

Relationships are partnerships. Often, one or both of the people involved forget that; they’re a little too self-absorbed, always wanting what they want when they want it regardless of how their partner feels.

Since all relationships require some form of compromise to be successful, the couple has to work as a team. It’s always a give and take; a quid pro quo; a back and forth between the people involved. “Hey, since we saw Shaft last week, how about we see A Dog’s Journey this week?” Both people are willing to give in to make their partner happy, even if they have to sacrifice a little bit.

A willingness to compromise can go a long way in creating happiness and feelings of well-being in the relationship.

11. Tell Your Partner 3 Things You Love About Them

My husband and I attended a couple’s seminar years ago. One of the exercises we were asked to perform was to walk around our partner while they sat in a chair, and tell them all the things we loved about them. It was an amazing experience. The focus was to be only on the good, on what you loved about them, what you admired, respected.

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As the exercise progressed, the partner reciting all the compliments was reminded about why they were with that person to begin with. It was very powerful, and the feelings created from the exercise lingered for days.

12. Listen

You might think you’re listening, but next time your partner is talking, pay attention to your thoughts. What are you thinking? Are you really listening? Are you formulating your answer? Have you tuned out? True listening requires a great deal of effort, but it is a gift to the person who is feeling heard.

When you truly listen, the other person feels valued, important, like they matter. And isn’t that a gift you want to give your partner? It doesn’t cost a thing, but the dividends are priceless. True listening is the encapsulation of love.

Tonight, ask your partner a question, then really listen. Don’t get discouraged if your mind wanders for a spell, bring it back and re-focus. Your partner will sense your attentiveness and be ever so grateful.

13. Drop Old Issues

It might sound crazy to bring up past issues and hurts while in an argument, but couples do it all the time. It’s not uncommon for a partner to say, “Remember when you broke that vase and you said you’d replace it and you never did? You’re just as clumsy as ever!” The partner stares dumbfounded. “But that was 17 years ago! Why are you bringing that up now? Just because I accidentally dropped your cup and broke it?” You can see that this can quickly escalate.

There is no reason to bring up the past. Ask yourself: “What’s the point? What am I trying to accomplish? Am I trying to fix the problem or make it worse?” Old issues have no place in the present. Let them go. Concentrate on the here and now.

The bottom line is: make your relationship stronger, not weaken it.

14. Love DOES Mean Having to Say You’re Sorry

In the 1970 film, Love Story, written by Erich Segal, there’s a scene in which Jenny, played by Ali MacGraw, says to Oliver, played by Ryan O’Neil, “Don’t, love means never having to say you’re sorry.” I beg to differ.

People make mistakes. It’s good to apologize. Not just a fake apology, but a true, heart-felt apology. Apologies go a long way to repair a broken relationship. If you are in the wrong, say it. Mean it. Make sure the person understands that you are making amends.

You are not going to come off as weak if you say you’re sorry. Not only will you validate your partner’s feelings, you’ll gain respect. More than likely, your partner will say something like, “It’s okay. I know you didn’t mean that.” Make amends when you need to. Your partner will look at you with the loving eyes you crave.

Final Thoughts

Love is the most beautiful thing on earth. Being loving is the most amazing gift you can give. All the heart flutters, the butterflies in the belly, and the buckling knees, can’t replace genuine loving acts.

Don’t allow your relationship to be fed by simply stringing a set of words together. It takes a great deal more than that. It takes a Commitment, an Action, and a Decision. Done over and over again.

You have everything you need right here. It’s the start you need to make it to the finish line of your relationship. If your relationship has suffered an injury, implement the above tips for a week, a month. See what happens.

I see a second honeymoon in your future.

More About How to Love

Featured photo credit: Joanna Nix via unsplash.com

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Rossana Snee

Rossana is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She aspires to motivate, to inspire, and to awaken your best self!

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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