It is often said that in the best relationships, partners bring out the best in each other. Sometimes in the midst of the stresses and ups and downs of life, though, we can forget just who this best version of our partners and ourselves is. To rekindle feelings of love and esteem that might get lost in the everydayness of your life together, try this bonding exercise. (While this exercise is directed at people in relationships, others can adapt it; Instead of doing it with a romantic partner, try it with a close friend or family member.)
1. Find the time.
Find some time in which you and your partner can be alone in a quiet, relaxed environment where you can do this exercise in the best possible state of mind. Don’t do this soon after a fight. If you’ve been fighting, it’ll be too difficult to see the forest for the trees; you’ll see the fight as indicative of your entire relationship, clouding your thoughts about your partner.
2. Two for them.
To begin, each of you should write down at least two positive characteristics of the other person (no peeking!). For example, does she have a great sense of humor, and is she able to poke fun at herself rather than turn others into the butt of her jokes? Is he a great listener who will hear you talk about your life and your concerns without ever making it about him? Is she calm and reasonable in the middle of a crisis, looking for ways to make a situation better instead of giving up or giving in?
3. … and two for you.
Next, each of you should write down at least two positive characteristics of your own personality. This may be difficult, especially for those who grew up in households that crushed their self-esteem through passive-aggressiveness or emotional neglect. If you can’t think of things you like about yourself, try to imagine what your partner wrote down about you. Perhaps they like that you care about the well-being of others and believe in the importance of personal growth and strengthening bonds. (The proof? You’re doing this exercise!).