By Marcus Buckingham
November 05, 2009
The 13th-century Persian poet Rumi wrote, “Be with those who support your being.” Choosing relationships that leave you feeling stronger as a result of the interaction is obviously preferable to the alternative. One of the best things you can do to foster those kinds of relationships is to make sure that you do what you can to “support the being” of your own partner.
To build the strongest connection with your partner:
1. Spend time discovering the experiences that strengthen your partner the most.
2. Create situations in which your partner will be able to experience these moments—with or without you. You needn’t try to enjoy your partner’s strengthening moments thinking it will bring you closer together. If you’re pretending to like something that you don't, it won't.
3. Design an evening where your sole purpose is to express gratitude for your partner. Talk about all the ways your partner makes your life better, the little things that you notice and appreciate and the impact your partner has on the lives of your children, if you have them. Use specific examples to illustrate what you are saying.
4. Every week, plan to share a mutually strengthening experience together.
5. Inevitably your partner will do things that frustrate or annoy you. Strive to focus on what’s working, or what “working” would look like, and then find evidence that your partner is doing it. Look for it. Believe in it. You’ll be surprised when your partner begins to transform before your eyes. We get what we look for.
6. Research reveals the ways you perceive your spouse not only color your current reality, but they actually alter your relationship and thereby create your future reality. So, when looking at your spouse, choose your perceptions carefully.
When the desire to connect, support and love outshines the need to be right about your partner, you’re onto something. It is a deliberate choice to look for the best in the people around us. Always look for what’s working. Attention amplifies.
If you don’t currently have people who strengthen you in your life, seek them out. Join groups where like-minded individuals might be meeting. Ask close friends to introduce you to their close friends. Be explicit about what you're looking for. Be truthful about what you want. It’s easy to fall into a victim trap: "No one understands me." "No one gets me" "I’m never going to find someone." These can be self-fulfilling prophecies. Replace these comments with more affirming statements and then take action to make those statements a reality. Nobody is going to come knocking at your front door to ask you to come out to play. Go out and play, and people will be drawn to play with you!