You can likely relate to this. You’re being pulled in a thousand different directions with everyone clamoring for your attention. Your spouse, your kids, your neighbors, your work, your friends… You end up not being able to pay attention to anyone and you feel out of the loop.
Studio 5 Relationship Coach Matt Townsend shares some ideas on how to harness the power of attention.
Sometimes we go through life and we are not really present; we are not paying attention. I had an experience that taught me about being present. I drove for 20 minutes so self-absorbed and distracted that I didn’t realize that I was listening to CNN in French. I don’t speak French. I had no clue what was being said and it took me 20 minutes to get present enough to realize it. Do we ever find ourselves in a similar situation in our life and in our relationships? Do we live our lives without having our head engaged? This was a great lesson to me about the power of attention…and the blinding effects of inattention.
We all thrive under the attention of another. When you don’t feel like you have someone’s attention, you feel ignored or unnoticed. If your spouse never pays attention when you are talking, how do you feel? Maybe you feel like you are not worth the effort it takes to actually listen. Not having someone’s full attention makes most people feel unappreciated or unimportant.
Paying attention to others is an important part of any relationship. This is especially true in your long-term relationships with your spouse or your children. When you give someone your full attention, you are really telling them that they are important and that you care about what they say or do. That is the power of attention.
Make Time for Paying Attention
Make time for the people who mean the most to you. People in truly happy relationships don’t have more time in the day to spend paying attention to each other, they just make more time. Giving someone your full attention should be a priority in your most important relationships.
It’s important to keep communication channels open and to take the time to routinely listen to your spouse and children and talk deeply about any issues or concerns. Giving someone your full attention, even just for a few minutes, let’s them know that they are important to you and that you care. When you give your attention to your spouse or your children, they know that they can always count on you.
Challenge: Create a weekly ritual that you will do together no matter what. With your spouse, weekly date nights are a great place to start. Commit to a three-hour date every week and while you are on the date, don’t get distracted. Give your complete attention to your spouse.
Notice When You Receive Someone’s Full Attention
When things aren’t going well in your relationship you tend to focus more on what is broken instead of what is working. Usually whatever you focus on will grow. The key to strengthening your relationship is to recognize when your partner is paying attention and give him or her credit for it. Doing this helps you to become more aware of the positive things in the relationship and it helps your spouse feel more incentive to give you their time because you notice their efforts.
Research shows that the couples that rate themselves as healthy and happy tend to pay much more attention to the good things in life. If you get used to focusing on the good things, more than likely you will create more good things in your life. You will also feel better about life.
Challenge: Since what you focus on grows, strengthen your relationship by looking for what is working in the marriage. Comment on it daily or write it down. As you and your partner discuss all that is healthy and working, watch what happens.
Show Your Love by Giving Your Attention
Just like we all have different ways of learning we all have different ways of loving. A great way to show your partner or your children that you love them is to give them your attention. People can’t be “put on hold” for weeks, months, and years. Neither can relationships. If you take your spouse or children for granted in this way, you run the risk of losing your emotional connection and discovering that when you’re finally ready to devote time to the relationship, your partner or children don’t want to be with you.
If you want more in your relationship with family month to month, you have to give more – consistently and continuously. Your relationship is like a garden. You have to care for it consciously and consistently if you want it to produce fruit. Take time every day to feed and water your relationship garden so that you are creating the fruit you desire with your spouse or children.
Challenge: Talk to your spouse and children every day about something that is important to them. Ask them about their day in general or specifically ask, “What is the best thing that happened to you today?” This will open up the conversation and show your interest in what they have to say. You could also join in an activity with them and have fun together.
Date Nights with Matt Townsend
“Loving Your Partner Their Way”
Friday, June 24
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
$35 per couple
Location: Noah’s in South Jordan