Good will is generated so effortlessly in the beginning of a romantic relationship, we don’t even know we’re doing it—it just ‘happens’! It’s what draws us together in the first place—all of that good stuff: the laughter, the smiles, the hanging out together, the connection.
Perhaps you’re in the “You’re not as great as I thought” or the “You need to change!” stage. These are real stages that we experience in a long-term relationship—this is how it feels! Making a conscious effort to nourish good will is an essential element in any strong and loving relationship.
Typically I tell my clients: Focus on building good will every day you’re away from my office. Hold the difficult conversations for when we meet. Let me help you develop that skillset (navigating conflict or perpetual issues), until you have it under your belt. The greater your good will, the easier having those difficult conversations will be.”
(I also speak to this in my Two Arms video.)
So, how do we nourish good will in our relationships?
- Kindness, kindness, kindness. Research has shown, kindness is the ‘glue’ in relationships.
- Listening deeply to your partner shows them that who they are—their thoughts, feelings, experiences—matter to you
- Smile when you see them
- Giving one another the benefit of the doubt
- Holding all complaints for one segment of the week (see my blog about the Touchstone meeting)
- Learn about your partner’s Love Language and speak it frequently
- Commit to not engaging when physiologically aroused, or flooded, as doing so erodes connection and feelings of safety
- Ask them periodically, What do you need from me right now?
- Giving them your presence, your attention. Listen to, and care about, their thoughts and feelings. (You do not have to agree with them to listen and care about them.)
- Honor each of your points-of-view— you’re both right!
Nourishing good will is something each of us should be contributing to daily, seven days a week. The challenging conversations that we all must have with our partners, contain those to agreed-upon times; times when you both can be focused, present, not-distracted, but most importantly, not flooded.
Love one another deeply, extravagantly, daily.