Be Attentive (270/365)

A romantic relationship, whether before or after marriage, needs care to keep it healthy. Just like any living thing, you’ve got to give it the attention that it needs to keep both members happy.

It’s harder than it sounds.

Most of us have very busy lives. I know we’re holding down two careers, three children, community responsibilities, housework, and many other things. It can feel overwhelming at times, and little things like being attentive to your partner can fall by the wayside.

Don’t let that happen. One of the biggest wedges in a relationship is a sense that someone isn’t appreciated for what they bring to a relationship. It can tear a relationship apart.

Being attentive isn’t hard, but it is something that thrives with practice. Here are some tactics to use.

First, listen. Rather than just waiting for your turn to talk, focus on what the other person is saying. What is he/she talking about? What things really bring out the passion in him/her? What is the other person really proud of? Listening is a big part, but watching is vital, too.

Second, remember. Try to keep in mind what’s going on with the other person. What did you learn from the listening? Focus on remembering at least the key things.

Third, care. If this is something that’s having an impact on your partner, it’s having an impact on you, too. This thing is changing the mood of your partner. What can you do to help?

Fourth, build on what you’ve learned. Bring up the things you’ve learned in conversation. In my own life, I try hard to ask about ongoing concerns. If Sarah is struggling with something professionally, I ask her about it. If Sarah needs something, I try to make it happen.

Finally, make this all routine. These things should be normal in your relationship. You should listen, you should remember, you should care, and you should build on that with your own actions.

A partner that pays attention to you and cares about your life will make maintaining a relationship a lot easier. Being attentive costs nothing. Losing a relationship can cost a lot.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “,” which is available and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of , the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.

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