Celebrating your relationship
By Norman Araiza
Something happens over time in most romantic relationships that causes the relationship to falter, lose its sparkle and fade into mediocrity. It occurs slowly, insidiously, without the couple being aware of the changes that are inherent. Oftentimes it isn’t due to any impropriety or event on either side that is causing the problem. But it is a problem because neither is getting their emotional needs met. There may not be an obvious reason to which either can point a finger. It may be something as simple as just not outwardly expressing the value we feel for the relationship. Things that are not valued usually get set aside, misplaced and eventually are forgotten. When accidentally found years later, for a moment we may experience a momentary nostalgia reminding us of the value we once placed on it. But soon it is set aside again because its value has been lost. It may not fit in our lives at this point. Endangered relationships are like this. It may not be that we don’t value the relationship. It may be as important as ever, we just stopped expressing its importance to us and our partner.
In science there are laws which refer to events that have never failed to occur, like the law of gravity. What goes up must come down. Nothing has failed to do so. In psychology we have a law of behavior that states if you want an event to reoccur it must be reinforced. It must be acknowledged or it will extinguish itself. No one continues to put money into a slot machine if it doesn’t pay out from time to time.
Celebrating the relationship is one way to prevent its extinguishment. It doesn’t have to be an actual celebration involving others. In fact it’s more effective if it’s private and intimate. It doesn’t even have to be verbal. High-functioning couples oftentimes communicate non- verbally, perhaps with a hand squeezed, or a sliding foot on a partners calf under the table that means something to each. The magic that can occur between couples from across the room at parties or social gatherings with just a smile, a wink can communicate the value. Clearly, going out for dinner on your anniversary or a card on Valentine’s Day isn’t going to make it. It’s better if it isn’t prompted by some date or reason other than you have just allowed yourself to open and feel that intoxication that is potential in all loving relationships. It isn’t about your partner and what they do. It’s about you and your willingness to experience the vulnerability and the joy that you have someone with whom to share your life. Ultimately, I believe romance is communicating to your partner your experience of what you allow yourself to feel by loving them. It’s truly an attitude that you create inside yourself by cherishing your time with your partner. You can choose to do it or not. If you don’t it’s not only your loss but everyone else’s with whom you come in contact. Feeling love puts more smiles on your face and others benefit from it.
Celebrating the relationship is an invitation to your partner to share in your appreciation that you have found each other and in your good fortune to have someone to share life’s journeys.
As you read this article and if you are fortunate enough to have a romantic relationship, ask yourself… how do you communicate its value to your partner? If you struggle with concrete answers perhaps you are falling into the trap of taking your relationship for granted, a sure way of losing it. If you don’t have a romantic relationship ask yourself how did you fail to communicate the value of your last one. If you have hopes of finding one ask yourself how you will celebrate it when you find one.
Norman Araiza M.A. is an American-trained psychotherapist enjoying a limited practice in San Miguel. He is available for consultation at 152-7842 or email: email@example.com.