Showing Your Partner that S/he is a Priority
If you hear your partner say things like, 'I need to know I am a priority', 'I just want to be included in your plans', 'It seems like everyone else is more important than me', 'I just want to feel like we're really together'; then it is likely s/he is needing more support in staying connected to a sense of inclusion in your life. That is, knowing s/he is priority for you.
If don't hear yourself say these things, you likely feel connected to your partner during the days when you are apart nearly as much as when you are together. It might be hard for you to understand how, for your partner, connection goes quickly when you are apart. S/he needs consistent reminders that s/he is in your heart. Behaviors that, for you, might seem like suffocation and pressure, are for your partner the best ways to help with connection and sense of inclusion.
Let's look at three ways to support your partner in staying connected to these needs. First, there are the little things that, done over time, teach your partner to trust that s/he is an important part of your life. Little things might include short phone calls, text messages, or emails sent during the day just to check in or just to say 'I love you'. On a slightly larger scale, you might have a calendar meeting each week so you know each other's schedule and can plan get-aways or outings together. Intentionally planning time together sends a strong message that the relationship is a priority.
A second way to support your partner in these needs comes with invitations. Your basic mantra here is "invite, invite, invite". It doesn't matter whether you know your partner has plans or whether you know s/he doesn't like the kind of thing you're doing, just being invited can give your partner a sense of inclusion.
I was recently on a backpacking outing with a group of people and my dog, Corazon, was with us. She happily sat in the middle of circles, visited folks in their campsites, and trotted along with the leader as we hiked. She demonstrated a strong confidence in her sense inclusion. Not everyone has this automatic sense of belonging. I'm learning a lot from Corazon about how easy it can be to include myself with others. The more you invite your partner, the more s/he will trust that s/he's important to you.
Moving together is a third way to support these needs. Physically staying together when you are out and about is a simple and easy way you can support your partner's sense of inclusion and importance in your life together. Examples are; waiting outside the bathroom for your partner rather than walking out to the car and inviting your partner to look with you when you see something interesting rather than peeling off on your own. Of course, you don't want to be attached at the hip. That's not what this is about. It's about consideration. Being intentional about moving together physically is an easy way to show consideration. When you want to move on your own, you can show consideration by letting your partner know what you are going to do and when you will meet them again.
For practice this week, choose one of the strategies mentioned above and try it out with your partner. Check in with your partner at the end of the week about how it worked for her or him.