How to be More Present in Your Relationship

Now that we’ve finished opening (or exchanging!) presents, let’s talk about being present!

The more tasks we can accomplish at once, the more productive we feel. We must admit though, that often these are tasks we can complete rather mindlessly— folding laundry while texting your friend and catching up on your favorite show. Your relationship, however, should not be one of these things; it deserves your full attention.

Here are four tips for being more present in your relationship:

  1. Focus on the here and now—literally! Have you ever been at a concert where you look across the crowd and see glowing cell phones dotting every row—fans recording the action, instead of just enjoying the live performance in front of them? Yes, taking videos and photos captures moments for posterity, but so does making a conscious effort to soak in the immediate experience. Think about how you feel in the moment, something photos cannot always convey.
  2. Stop lying awake at night. Try to avoid dwelling on past mistakes or things you or your partner should or should not have done—forgive and let things go. Don’t worry about controlling the future either—even the best laid plans won’t allow you to predict what’s to come. All you can do is make the most of the present!
  3. Limit distractions when you’re together. Set aside designated time do so, whether it is a few minutes or a few hours. Stash your cell phones, turn off the TV, and engage in real conversation, whether it is deep or silly. Cuddle on the couch. Make each other laugh. I’m sure you can think of a million other things you “should” be doing—focus on simply enjoying each other’s company. Those dishes can always be done tomorrow.
  4. See things as they are. When you have history with someone and believe you know them well, it’s easy to let your own perception and biases cloud the actual situation. Perhaps your partner forgot to let you know they’d be late getting home from work. Based on your history together, you could interpret this as a passive-aggressive response to the fact that you accidentally put a scratch in his/her new car the day before, or for some other reason that you create in your head. Or, you could see it as it is: they simply forgot. They are human, and they make mistakes, just like you.

Whether it is our hectic household, electronic devices, or even just our preoccupied minds, we face many distractions that can prevent us from giving our relationship our full attention. However, we can put in a conscious effort to be more present in our relationship—it’s worth it.