Relationships can be fiery and full of passion when you’re still dancing through the honeymoon stage. Eventually, you may discover the unexpected joy of being in a relationship after some time—sweet stability.
While it’s nice knowing that no matter how bad your day was, you get to come home to the arms of someone you love, this knowledge can also make us go into auto-pilot.
You may find yourself taking advantage of your partner’s kind habits, expecting them to be an evergreen part of your routine. When this happens, intention is lost, and we fail to see our partners as the people with whom we fell in love.
Instead, we see them as another cog in the nonstop machine that is our daily lives. Intention matters in our relationships because it gives us a stronger sense of trust, intimacy, and love with our partner.
What Intentionality Looks Like in Relationships
Proactive (Not Reactive) Love
Your ability to de-escalate an argument without hurting the person you love is great. However, if you only really prove yourself to your partner during times of crisis, your relationship is missing intentionality.
When you think of showing intention, think of proactive behaviors that help support your partner’s energy and goals.
For example, let’s say visiting family is an especially stressful event for your partner. Proactively (read: intentionally) loving them would look like saying, “When you come back on Sunday, I’ll have your favorite comfy clothes washed and ready for us to crash and watch a movie together.”
Show your partner that you understand the ebbs and flows of their emotions. Prove that you know when they’ll need support without them having to ask for it.
Planning for Growth Instead of Expecting It
Some people think that being in a relationship for a long time means it must be a strong relationship. However, time isn’t the best metric with which to judge a relationship’s quality.
Auto-piloting your way through a relationship will only leave you feeling burdened with the problems you never felt comfortable bringing up and/or overwhelmed with unmet needs.
Instead, plan for growth by being intentional about it. Ask yourself questions, like…
- When in this relationship have I felt the happiest?
- What has my partner done before that made me feel safe?
- What are the ways I show love to my partner?
- How do I prefer receiving love from my partner?
- What things do I do solely for my enjoyment?
- What things do I want me and my partner to do together?
- When have I felt the most connected to my partner?
- How do I typically choose to connect with my partner?
- What are our strengths as a couple?
- Where would I like us to improve as a couple?
Take a moment to write down and share these answers with your partner, and have them do the same.
Viewing your relationship from a high-level perspective can be beneficial. Together, you can come up with solutions to emotional problems, first. (As in, before you feel the emotions that can blind you to any possible solution in the moment.)
Setting Monthly Intentions
To practice, have both you and your partner create a list of 12 things to do for the other this month. (Gifts, gestures, activities, acts of service, etc.) They can happen at any time, but each partner has the responsibility to think intentionally about the other, and then act on it.
You can even get more specific by setting a more formal intention. For example, “We take an interest in finding new, healthy ways to cope with our conflicts and levels of individual stress.”
That way, you can plan 12 things for the month that are centered around stress-reducing coping activities or gifts.
Working with a counselor is a great way to support your own emotional capacity while working through these hard topics with your partner. Ready to get started? Schedule an appointment with me today.