Valentine’s Day is a time to rekindle the flames of romance and passion in our intimate relationship and to share our fondness and admiration for our partner with him or her. It is also a time to remember why we chose this person as our intimate partner in the first place. All too often in long-term intimate relationships, we neglect to nurture and express our fondness and admiration for our partner and we start to forget why we love this person.
However, in Dr. John Gottman’s 40 years plus of multi-dimensional and extensive research with over 3,000 couples, he found that the “Masters of Relationship” genuinely like and enjoy one another, share their fondness and admiration for each other on a regular basis, and can access their positive feelings for each other even in the midst of conflict. As a result of these findings, Share Fondness and Admiration is the second of John Gottman’s Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and the second level of his “Sound Relationship House.”
John Gottman also found that there is hope for couples who are struggling with their relationship if they still access or remember the fondness and admiration that initially brought them together. On the other hand, if couples are unable to access or remember their initial fondness and admiration, their marriage or relationship is in serious trouble.
Fortunately, it is not terribly difficult to revive or increase the fondness and admiration in a relationship. Even positive feelings that have been buried for a long time can be brought into the light simply by thinking or talking about them. You can do this by thinking about your partner and what you appreciate about him or her. Try to come up with three or four positive adjectives that describe your partner and what you like or appreciate about him or her. Then come up with a concrete example of each, i.e. a time when your partner demonstrated this quality. Then share this with your partner. Another way to do this is to think about what you are grateful for in your relationship. Try doing one or both of these on your Valentine’s Day date. My wife and I have done this several Valentine’s Days and have found it to be very beneficial.
If you are having difficulty accessing fondness and admiration for your partner in the moment, it might help to think about what first attracted you to your partner and the larger history of your relationship. What first attracted you to your partner? What were your first impressions of each other? What do you remember most about the time that you were dating? What stands out? If you are married, how did you decide to get married? What do you remember about your wedding and honeymoon? What have been some of the best times in your marriage or relationship? Despite the difficulties, what has kept you together? Thinking about and discussing questions like these can help you revive and increase the fondness and admiration in your marriage or relationship.
So, this Valentine’s Day, in addition to the chocolates, flowers, cards, gifts, and romantic getaway or dinner, take some time to share fondness and admiration in your marriage or relationship. Your marriage or relationship will be happier because you did.
Gottman, J., & Silver, N. (1999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York, NY: Three Rivers.
© 2019 Michael Brown, MSC, LMFT, dba Happy Couples Healthy Communities