Relationship Past-Relationship-Future (Part 4 of 4)

Greetings and welcome to my post. The purpose of this post is to engage in conversation about how all of us do relationships. I believe that we are created for relationships and what gives us the most meaning in our lives is the significant relationships we have with people. When we have positive, growing, and happy relationships, then our lives become more meaningful. But the opposite can also happen when we have conflict, hate, and hurt in our most important relationships. Then life can become very stressful and depressing.

Recently, a book was published titled “Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship” by Terri Orbuch. The theory and premise of this book was to ask divorced people to reflect upon their past relationships and to state what they think they did wrong as a learning lesson for building a better relationship. I thought this study and topic to be very good and right on, so I thought I would share some of my insights as it applies to participating in healthy relationships.


A fourth area that divorced people were able to reflect upon in their previous marriage was their failure to not boost their spouse’s mood. Most of the divorced people are now able to say that they would think of ways to be more affective in their affirmation towards their spouse. In reflection, they know that they failed to be each other’s biggest cheerleader and that in their next marriage, they would do things like give compliments, cuddle and kiss, more hand-holding, saying “I love you,” and providing emotional support.

According to the author, these divorced people wish they would have done more of these four things when it comes to display of affection and boosting each other’s mood: 1) how often each spouse showed love; 2) how often each spouse made them feel good about the kind of person they are; 3) how often each spouse made them feel good about having their own ideas and ways of doing things and 4) how often each spouse made life more interesting or exciting.

When you think about it, life can be seen as an investment. For example, when you think of your occupation, the more that you invest of your time to your company, there is a likely hood that your boss and company will keep you around as an employer. Or think of your garden or plants you take care of. The more often you feed, water, prune and weed out plants from your garden, the more likely your plants will grow. In many ways, that which you focus on and invest in many times results in growth.

So when it comes to your most important personal relationships, how are you investing of your time and efforts to help this relationship grow? Can you see that you do play a part in boosting your partner, friend, family member or spouse mood and feelings? Do you see that you do play a part in how your personal reaction to someone can lead to someone feeling good or feeling lousy?

Now sure, I can hear many of you say: “I am not responsible for my spouse, friend, or family member mood or feelings. They are responsible for their mood and I am responsible for my mood.” This attitude or approach has made its way into the world of relationships in such a way that their seems to be an indifference or cynicism towards one another in which each person sets up a toxic boundary pushing the other person away and saying in general “Don’t expect me things of me or blame me for how you feel.” As a result, people take on a nonresponsive approach with one another almost to the extent of detaching or withdrawing from the relationship. Protecting yourself becomes more important than the relationship.

And this is not good. It is almost that our society has concluded that self protection or self sufficient is more important than caring for others. And the reason this is not good is that we do need and we do want people to love and affect others. Listen, if you are a pet owner or a plant owner, both your dog and your daisy are going to want something from you. They are going to need food, water, attention and support. Call it for what you want but life is going to ask of you to respond and to give. Sure, I guess you could go buy a tent and live in the dessert not owning anything and live separate from society not expecting anything from anyone. But does this not only lead to isolation and hiding from others as a strategy to protect yourself? How is that working for you?

If you want to be in relationship with people, you do have the power and influence to affect one another. So why not become more proactive rather than reactive in trying to boost the mood of the most important people in your life? Do you really want them to be happy? Or are you okay with them being in a grumpy, angry, silent mood where you feel that you have to walk on eggshells around them? Or how about you, can you see how you do value others desiring to want to boost your mood as well by others showing affection and attention to you? Can’t you see that this can be an effective way in which we all try to help and give towards one another?

So boosting one another means to invest in one another. When you invest, you give a little at a time wanting to see a return on your investment. You want to see that when you give, it matters. You want to see that if you give money to a stock or mutual fund that maybe you can get a 10% return on your investment. By doing this, you believe that your giving matters and that you getting a return of your investment which helps you gain more money. Well, can’t you see that if you boost your partner, your friend, your family member’s mood that you will also will gain? Can’t you see that if they are happy, then this will also benefit you?

Think about it. We can help and influence one another and we can
affect each other’s mood. This means that showing daily acts of kindness towards one another is so important. For example, all people and all relationships need two things: Love and Acceptance. Each person needs to feel valued, loved and cherished and each person needs to feel accepted, cared for and respected. Each person can help and invest in these two areas. Sure, you may not feel that you are responsible for doing these things but do you desire to show love and acceptance towards one another?

Men, think of the important women in your life. What are some ways that you can boost their mood? I know that this is hard to believe but women really don’t need and want a 5-star dinner once a week. Each day, they want to know and feel that you are in to them by boosting their mood according to some of the 4 things I mentioned at the start of this blog. For example, lets say you want to boost her mood according to her ideas and ways of how things should be done. Can you see that if you validate her ideas and ways of how she keeps the house clean, or how she does the finances, or in how she parents, or in how she thinks of ways and ideas to help our society that you can boost her emotions by complimenting her and sharing with her how much you do appreciate this? What would it look like if you said, “You’re a great parent to our kids” four times a week?

Or women, think of the most important men in your life. What are some ways that you can boost his mood? Believe it or not, men really do need love and acceptance just like women do. Men do need to hear from their women that they are valued and matter and when you can boost his mood through words of affirmation, this does matter to men. Men need to feel respected and how their efforts do matter for the relationship. So for women, think of ways to distress their lives. Men get too stressed in wanting to try to fix things or wanting to solve things. Tell men that they are a good person and then think of ways to reduce their stress by simple acts such as turning on the coffee in the morning, warm up the car, make him a favorite dessert, give him a hug. Women need to know by their man that they are valued. Men need to know that women are trying to reduce their stress.

So, go ahead, make each other’s day. Boost each other mood. Try to think of ways to help and influence one another. You will feel that your giving will gain a return and your partner will feel loved and cared for. Your car needs a wash, oil change and tune up once in well. So does your partner. Give acts of love and affection. Your partner will appreciate your efforts to boost and help one another grow.

Phil Kiehl, LMFT, M.Div.
Licensed Therapist

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts regarding what relationship past lessons you have learned and how these posts apply to your future relationships. Share your comments and share this article with others. Thanks.