What is the essence of relationship? What, most fundamentally, leads to a relationship succeeding? What makes for fulfillment and satisfaction? What is it that most couples are seeking? Genuine connection. And what does that mean? What does one need to do to create or allow for genuine connection?
The answer to this is both very simple and very complex. The simple, most honest answer is an open heart. An open heart means sharing what is genuinely going on with you – without blaming your partner. If you are sad – about something they are doing, or something happening outside of the relationship – it means telling them. Letting them know what you are feeling is letting them know who you are. And it is important not to confuse this with blame. If your partner has upset you, try telling them that without blame, but from the bottom of your heart.
It also means deep empathy for your partner. A willingness to truly tune into them. To feel what they are feeling. Then to care about what makes them happy and what makes them sad or frustrated. And a willingness to contribute, whenever possible, to what makes them happy and to avoid contributing to what makes them frustrated.
This entails small as well as large things. If, for example, receiving a card on mother’s day or flowers on valentine’s day is important to them, then, even if you don’t believe in those holidays, to give them the card or the flowers. In my work with couples I see that these “small” things lead to over-all satisfaction, a partner’s sense that they are cared about, which in turn helps them open their heart.