You found your person. You’re super stoked about who they are, your relationship and how you feel when you’re with them. You laugh, make amazing meals, enjoy the same kinds of films — you even dig the same style yoga.
Life is going great. You have great friends, a career you work hard at and really enjoy. Yet there are those times when you get super annoyed with them, and you just can't help yourself. “Oh no he didn’t. I asked him to take the trash out five times, when is he going to listen?” Or, “ I wish she put the freakin’ lid on the toothpaste, how many times do I have to say it?” Next thing you know, these frustrations erupt in a bit of a disagreement, or maybe they even burst into an argument. Now you find yourself strongly defending your point of view, and suddenly halfway through the back-and-forth spitfire you realize you don’t even know what you’re mad about. “Was it really about the trash or the toothpaste?” The answer is very likely, no, not even close.
Every couple is different and has their own emotions and experiences to work through, both individually and as a unit. I’m not here to pretend I have it all figured out.
But I will say that I've seen so many people, myself included, experience frustration and angst in their relationships from putting them on the back burner in order to create a successful life. Sounds a little backward doesn’t it?
The truth is, we crave connection, appreciation and acknowledgement. As a personal example, for about three years my husband and I had a lot of, “Is this what it means to be a grown up?” moments. We're both entrepreneurs, we love what we do and we joyfully work hard. Yet a stream of life events happened that left us exhausted, with hardly any energy left for one another. We inevitably argued.
My oldest brother had suddenly passed away. I had launched a new business. A week later, we got engaged and a year later we were married.
In the middle of that year my father had been diagnosed with cancer, had surgery and thankfully recovered. Three months after our wedding, I ended up leaving the business I had created; meanwhile, my husband’s career was taking off big time. Naturally we found ourselves grieving a lot, as well as celebrating and moving a million miles a minute to keep up.
Why do I mention this? Well, because I think we can all relate to new beginnings, painful endings, grief and celebration. This is life. Sometimes we get so busy with our careers, daily responsibilities, and taking care of our to-do lists that we forget to make time for each other. When we feel like we can’t take one more thing, we end up fighting with our love. And that just sucks, plain and simple.
So we decided to be proactive. Hence the creation of the “Nothin’ But Love” exercise, a practice my husband and I created, inspired by a song of the same name by our friend Brendan James. The intention was to create more connection, deepen our intimacy and have a couple of laughs.
We sat across from each other, facing one another with a timer. We each had three minutes to riff on what we loved and appreciated about each other. While one of us spoke, the other had to remain quiet, listen and simply receive the love. Once the three minutes was up, it was the other's turn.
Lots of deep breaths, a couple of laughs and even some tears later, we realized this was pretty powerful stuff. In a matter of six minutes our perspectives had shifted from being overwhelming and slightly annoying to settling into the present moment and remembering our appreciation and love for one another.
Following the exercise we were focused on gratitude and realizing how abundantly blessed we are. We ended up learning new things about ourselves we didn’t even know existed, let alone knowing that our partner loved those qualities about us. Our intimacy grew deeper. We even had a good laugh about the silly and slightly annoying habits we each had. This became a priority for us, creating time to connect and focus on being grateful together. If you dig it, we encourage you to give it a try.
In relationships, we all want to know that our partner has our back and that we’re in this together, especially when life becomes full and bit overwhelming. Carving out time to simply share appreciation can be a game changer. A simple truth: gratitude changes everything.