In this world of gifts, flowers and nearly unlimited opportunities for dates, we tend to lose sight of the value of truly cherishing our significant other. Instead of objects, consider giving your partner a gift that has the power to change both of your lives by learning to cherish the one you love; the verb, that is, not the emotion. The emotion of cherishing our lover comes and goes at the mercy of seemingly everything, from how much sleep we had last night to how hungry we are right now. The real gift of cherishing is something you do. It’s the intentional practice of protecting and caring for someone lovingly. It is something you learn and cultivate—a skill we can utilize throughout our lives. “Cherishing” is an adventure of knowing and experiencing each other deeply.
There are so many ways for us to cherish our spouse. Let’s look at three essentials.
- Be Fully Present – Give your partner the experience that, out of all the things going on in your life right now, you want to focus on them. Give them your physical presence, your focused attention and your curiosity to understand more about them, their unique experiences and their thoughts. This requires practice, as well as the development of “one mindedness.” We live in a multi-tasking culture, with kids, continuous social media, phone and email notifications and more constantly fighting for our focus. Consider spending 15-20 minutes each day giving your partner your undivided attention. Focus your mind uniquely on being with them, experiencing them and communicating with them.
- Listen to Understand – Many of us have developed the habit of listening to respond. However, being understood is essential to the experience of being cherished. Learn to listen with your body by physically turning toward your spouse. Focus on staying curious by asking questions about what they are saying. Seek to understand the full meaning of what your spouse is sharing. Don’t offer advice unless it’s asked for, and don’t become impatient by thinking you know everything of value in the discussion. Giving your lover the experience of being understood is the meaning and purpose behind what you are doing in that moment.
- Validate their Experience – Confirm what you think you have understood with your partner. Then, given your understanding of them, what they have experienced and the way they think about the topic, let them know that “the way you feel about this makes sense to me.” In validating, we communicate that their experience is legitimate to us. You are confirming their essential dignity to have their own experience, thoughts and feelings. This can be true even when you experience the same thing, or something similar, in a completely different way. Being treated with the dignity to have our own experiences, thoughts and feelings is essential to creating the feeling of safety required to develop a deep emotional intimacy.
Becoming someone that cherishes your partner requires cultivating and internalizing the genuine core value of understanding your lover’s thoughts, their emotional world and their dreams and desires, particularly when they are different from yours. Not only do you give them the gift of being cherished, you create a deepening, emotionally-intimate relationship. Meanwhile, you receive the gift of knowing a constantly-growing and infinitely-unique human being, as well as sharing the world through their unique experience—an adventure that, at it’s best, can last a lifetime.
Ethos Wellness clinicians offer both in-person and virtual counseling opportunities for couples, families and individuals. If you and your partner could use the support of an experienced therapist, reach out to our care team confidentially by tapping here.