Articles by Alex Ryder, Couple's counselling

Feeling last on your partner’s list? The most effective ways to prioritise love in your relationship.

The endless demands of modern life often pull us into spending more time than we want on unimportant things and leave us with little time for the things that matter most.


These demands are often so convincing that we sometime forget what matters to us most, and our priorities get pushed aside by the urgency of deadlines.

Our priorities are often re-calibrated for us at times of loss, or potential loss. So it can be useful to ask yourself:

“If I became very ill, what would be most important to me?”

When asked this question, most people answer with “my family”, or “my partner”. For this reason, I often work with couples to re-position their relationship so their actions reflect their priorities. Most already have their partner at the top of their list of priorities, but in their day to day actions their partner comes last. You can read more about how this happens here.

Here are the top 6 ways I have come across in couples counselling that makes couples feel like a priority in their relationship again:

  1. Warm greetings – The way we greet our partner in the first 60 seconds of seeing them communicates so much about our level of enthusiasm for them and the relationship. If you’re unable to look up from your laptop when your partner gets home it is likely your relationship is in trouble. Read more about warm greetings in our recent article.
  1. Scheduled time – Setting time aside for your relationship demonstrates to your partner that you value it. It also demonstrates to YOU that you value it. You can book it in your diary like an appointment at the start of the week so you don’t schedule something else in.
  1. Make dreams come true – Think about what is going on for your partner at the moment. Can you help them achieve one of their goals, or take on some of their load for the week so they can focus on something that they have wanted to do for a while? Helping your partner meet their deep-seated dreams is a gift that they will only ever receive from someone that priorities them.
  1. Learn their language – Ask your partner how they know you love them. For example, some people feel loved if their partner buys them things. Others feel loved if dinner is cooked for them. Others it’s about affection, or the words themselves – ‘I love you’. Focus your efforts on the things that are meaningful for your partner.
  1. Send a text – Our expectations for communication have grown at much the same rate as technology has enabled it. When your partner sees that you are always on your phone communicating with others, and yet you don’t take 30 seconds during the day to text them it can suggest that they rank lower on your order of priorities. A simple text to say hi can make a huge difference. More about the complexities of smart phones in relationships here.
  1. Book a baby sitter – booking a baby sitter can be one of the most important things you can do for your relationship on a regular basis. It allows you and your partner to interact one-on-one again as independent adults (not parents). It also demonstrates to your children that you value your relationship. And perhaps above all… it is a good deal less expensive than relationship therapy.

The key to all these things is that they demonstrate your priorities to your partner through explicit observable actions. If you continually demonstrate to your partner, by your actions, that they are last on your list they will start to believe it, whether it is true or not. Your behaviours, not your underlying feelings, are what have the biggest impact on your relationship day to day.

A couple’s counsellor can help you get clear on the behaviours that are having the biggest impact on your relationship, and how you can use them to build love and intimacy.

Call us today on 02 8968 9397 to discuss an appointment and let us help you achieve some relationship clarity.

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