In a previous relationship help article, we focused on the idea of reminiscing as a pathway to nurturing your relationship—in particular, making a conscious effort to remember and share the positive memories that you and your spouse/partner have created and stored up over the history of your relationship. Bringing the positive-past into the present moment gives couples the opportunity to recapture and savor emotionally pleasurable, bonding experiences that can be used (and re-used) to feed and deepen emotional intimacy.
In today’s relationship advice article, we’ll briefly explore how you can strengthen your marriage or relationship by making a conscious effort to be more mindful and savor present-day experiences with your partner.
Savoring Present Moments for a Stronger Relationship
For the last week or so, Lisa and Jerry haven’t stopped talking about a recent movie they saw. They talked about their favorite scenes of the movie, the characters they liked and didn’t, who they identified with, possible motives for why characters did what they did… In short, Lisa and Jerry savored their experiences of the movie with one another.
Whenever you savor an experience, you place a mental thumb-tack in the experience so it doesn’t slip away from consciousness too quickly. Once the experience is identified and “held” in the spotlight of your focused awareness, it is allowed to take center stage in your mind. An opportunity is created where you can intensify and/or expand the positivity the experience has given you. Said differently, you create moments where you (and your partner) are able to relish more fully in the experience (as it is happening or after the actual experience has ended).
When you savor an experience with your spouse/partner, the positivity you experience separately becomes a shared event, one that fosters mutual delight and pleasure. The wisdom of the Swedish proverb is relevant here:
“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”
Don’t Let Positive Experiences Escape Too Quickly from Your Awareness
Like all of us, the stage of your mind has a limited amount of space to hold experiences, so only a select few pieces of information can occupy your mind’s center stage. New, incoming information and experiences are constantly competing for a placement on our mental stages, and once new information is let onto this stage, what previously existed on the stage is brushed aside and potentially lost from consciousness.
In our frenetic, information-saturated lives, the relatively small stage of our conscious mind is constantly being flooded and overrun—what was once center stage a moment ago, vying for attention, is quickly replaced by the newest information influx. The danger is that certain internalized experiences are often short-lived and in some cases, may go totally unnoticed because of the incoming competition for stage space.
You (and your relationship) lose out when positive experiences aren’t allowed to occupy your mental stage for extended periods of time.
In order for positive, pleasurable experiences to take hold on your mental stage, you must shine the spotlight of your attention onto this particular experience. When you focus on an experience, in essence, you are carving out a mental space on your psychic stage, a space that gives the internalized experience the room to exist—a place to stand without crashing into the next bit of incoming info.
In short, when you deliberately allow a pleasurable experience to occupy the center stage of your mind, you take a front row seat to this experience and an opportunity for savoring is created. This is what Lisa and Jerry were doing when they mentally revisited their experiences of the movie. They each temporarily cleared their mental stages (cleared away their work and financial concerns, and the stress of raising a newborn), which allowed mental space for the continued savoring of their experiences of the movie. And, unbeknownst to the couple, they were strengthening their marriage in the process of savoring this experience.
Are you and your partner/spouse ready to make savoring a regular part of your relationship?
Marital Relationship Resources
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Here’s to creating a meaningful relationship!
Dr. Rich Nicastro