To dig a little deeper into this idea of love gifts, I decided to get some insight from Larry A. Bugen, Ph.D. and author of Stuck on Me…Missing You: Getting Past Self Absorption to Find Love. In his book he outlines six gifts we need to give our partners in order to build a lasting relationship.
Bugen explains that each of the gifts he talks about in his book affirm that abstract intangibles in life far exceed concrete tangibles. "Without these gifts couples are merely living on parallel tracks, just going through the motions of life together, each doing their own thing," he says. Yes, chocolates are nice (don't get me wrong, I love them), but it seems there are more important things we can be giving our partners.
Humility and forgiveness: These gifts release us from the past, Bugen explains. Humility releases us from pride, and forgiveness frees us from resentment. In both cases – humility and forgiveness – the past no longer holds us back from having a strong, healthy relationship.
Acceptance and compassion: These gifts allow us to live more fully in the present, embracing life with an open heart. Accepting imperfection within ourselves and others ensures we're not over-emphasizing a certain ideal of perfection, while being compassionate means looking beyond ourselves to offer support to others.
Sacrifice and vision: These gifts allow us to live our lives looking forward instead of backward. With sacrifice, we focus less on the trivial (like who forgot to take out the trash) and commit to what really matters. Vision means taking the time to look inside to improve ourselves and our relationship. All six gifts require effort and a certain amount of vulnerability. Bugen adds, "Being vulnerable is the gateway for intimacy in all love relationships."
Being giving with our partner requires us to make tough choices every day. It takes effort to choose humility over pride or acceptance over judgment, Bugen explains. "The problem with all of these gifts is that they require us to act against impulses defined by our very nature," he says. Let's face it, sometimes it's just easier to stay angry or be resentful rather than forgiving. Shelling out a few bucks for a box of chocolates can be infinitely easier than being humble or vulnerable, and we've all had days where giving anything to our partner beyond a grunt here and there to acknowledge that they're in the room, feels exhausting.
The first step for introducing things like compassion, acceptance and forgiveness into your relationship on a more regular basis is to acknowledge that you have fallen short in some way and that you're committed to personally growing within the relationship, explains Bugen. "The six gifts require change within ourselves so that we become healthier partners. By doing so, we ensure a healthy relationship."
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