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Generosity and Gratitude in a Healthy Relationship

Expression of gratitude is essential in a relationship. This way a partner never gets to feel that their generosity is being taken for granted. This is not to say that acts of generosity are motivated by an expectation of something else being done in return.

The Lover's Journal Week 10 prompts are:

  1. List 6 things that your partner did this week that you're grateful for
  2. Come up with one thing you can do to show appreciation for your partner this week
  3. What is something you can do to bring pizazz and aliveness into your relationship this week?

As the podcast is guided by The Lover's Journal prompts and challenges, in this week's episode, we discuss the things that we're grateful to our partner for: from Cera's choice to adopt levity when tough times come, to Matthew continuing on with the morning kiss challenge from last month. We all have a lot to be grateful for.

card with a caption stating that what follows is a transcript of the interracial podcast

Matthew Temple: Talking of generosity, this week in The Lover’s Journal there’s this quote by Hafiz: ‘Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, ‘You owe me’. Look what happens with a love like that. It lights up the whole sky.’

I feel that that attitude is very important in a relationship.

It reminds me also of someone saying, ‘You can't each give 50% into your relationship. You each need to give 100%’. Obviously it's more complex than that. Anytime you look at a quote, saying or secret tip to a great relationship, there's always a nuance to it. But at the same time, when both people show up and give in that manner, there's a relaxed freedom.

I also think it's important to go back and say, ‘You know what, if ever something doesn’t sit right with you, then you are going to say that.’ But very often, when it comes to a challenge in a relationship, we wait out too long. So you’ll hear someone bring it up to this effect, ‘It's been bothering me -for a while.’

Cera: That’s so true. And this ‘while’ could be a couple of months, or even years.

I also think that when we talk about doing things for your partner in a relationship, or just being generous in general, it’s important to do it without expectation that the other person will reciprocate. You take 100% responsibility for that act of kindness. Generosity isn’t genuine unless it comes from such a clean place of giving with no further expectations.

I’m saying this quite aware of how hard it is to give without expectation. For instance, sometimes when I'm cleaning the house I think, ‘Matthew should vacuum.’ But I don't actually say it out loud.

Matthew Temple: You don’t say, ‘You should vacuum because I'm folding laundry’?

Cera: Actually, I don't even say you should vacuum because I expect you to know that you should vacuum.

Matthew Temple: Haha!

Communicate Your Expectations

Cera: I think those are the small things that ruin relationships. So what I have to remind myself when I go through that loop is that if I need something to be done, I have to ask. And that I shouldn’t do something in the house or for our relationship expecting that you're gonna give back. If I choose to do laundry, that's my choice.

Yeah, we have an agreement on who does what, but I can’t do something hoping that you're gonna do something else.

Matthew Temple: Right. There can be an agreement, which is different from an expectation. Add to that, I think in our gender stratified society, there are these expectations of either I bring home the money, or on the other hand you should be responsible for house cleaning. So it’s important to bring these things into question. So that is not an expectation, but rather, this opportunity to grow into something new. 

Cera: Yeah, grow the ability to give like the sun. It’s funny how when I’ve ever given out with expectations, I've always ended up disappointed. People will rarely match your generosity.

Matthew Temple: Right? I read a study once about why certain professions get more tips. And its conclusion was that the amount of money that people tip is usually in relation to how much enjoyment the person has. So in a restaurant, a 20% tip is pretty common. 

On the other hand, you’d not tip the same percentage at the car detailer. The person getting their car washed is just sitting there reading a book, not super exciting, right? So the differential is not so big. So they’ll be like, ‘Hey, here's five bucks or whatever, right?’

The difference here is the kind of relationship that exists between the worker and the client, right? It comes into play when negotiating what you give in return for the service.

Cera: That theory has a place in the service industry, but do you think it works in a romantic relationship? I don’t think so.

Generosity is defined differently in a relationship. Such that if you give and need something in return, you actually need to use your words to get what you need. It needs to be clearly communicated.interracial couple in the woods

What are you Grateful to your Partner for?

Matthew Temple: Exactly. I think that leads nicely into The Lovers Journal’s Week 10, which has the guided prompts bringing awareness into gratitude for what we have, and also what we can do for the other.

So prompt number one is:

List 6 things that your partner did this week that you are grateful for.

Cera: We’d had a busy weekend, and not being a morning person, I struggled to wake up this morning. But you came in while I was still in bed, and you gave me a kiss. I was like, ‘What do you want?’

I was curious because we had our morning kiss challenge last month. We had to kiss every morning. It turned out to be fun. But it was also an activity guided by the journal. But now we no longer have to do that monthly challenge. So when you came this morning, you just gave me a kiss. And I was like, ‘What do you want?’ You said, ‘Nothing. I'm giving my fiance a kiss.’ And you're cute about it, but you actually wanted nothing. You even came back for the second time. You kissed me and I didn't ask anything again. I was just like, ‘I'm just gonna take this and be grateful.’

Another thing that I'm really grateful that you did last week is curating our workout. On Friday, I really did not want to work out. I just wanted to eat Cheetos, drink some wine and watch Netflix. While usually, I'm the one who's like, babe, let's work out, let's work out. I think on Friday you sensed that I wasn’t up for it. So you took charge of the workout. I thank you for that.

Matthew Temple: You're welcome.

Cera: Okay. Oh, so the other thing I’m grateful to you for is how you assist me to take care of myself. I've been having digestion problems and your dad gave us these minerals to take. But I a suck at finishing prescriptions, even if it’s supplements. I like how you've been reminding me to take these ones. After every meal, you’re like, ‘Open up your mouth, have this stuff’. It's really cute. Thank you for taking care of me. It's training me to become also good at giving you your minerals.

Matthew Temple: Sure, it's also kind of fun.

Cera: Yeah. So the other thing I’m grateful for is your support when I need to process stuff. There’s this group therapy that I've been doing. Once a month we meet and there's a lot of things that come up in there. Well, some days I go, and I don't have those aha moments or revelations. But twice, I've gone and afterwards I needed to process something that spoke to me.

So last weekend I just came to you and asked, ‘I want to talk about something. Can you help me process it?’ You just sat there and listened. I may have spoken for two hours in the car with you just listening, not giving any input.

You were just there with me in my moment. I appreciate that. 

Lastly, thank you for the morning walks. I'm just so grateful that I get to do that with you. And it's also cute about how much you love the cows, and how much you appreciate the cows.MT

Matthew Temple: I know it's a little silly, how I get so excited every time I see the cows and how beautiful the landscape is. Yeah, even when they don't make you happy, at least last time around you didn't give me a hard time for petting the cow.

Cera: I don't think I'm going to appreciate it to the extent of petting the cow but I appreciate your love for cows and our morning walks together.

Ultimately, I must also say I’m grateful to have you as a business partner. In the last couple of months I have not been so excited about my work. Even then, you’ve always been in that place of excitement. I’m thankful for how you’ve shown up for us and for the businesses the last couple months. The way you didn't decide to just match my energy.

When I went low. You went high. I think that’s part of what makes our relationship great. How we show up for each other when one doesn't feel much alive and therefore needs more.

When not to Match your Partner’s Energy

Matthew Temple: Yeah, that's an important thing in a relationship: being okay with that ebb and flow.

We all go through different phases, right? So allow me to highlight that, because I don't always do that particularly well. While it didn’t happen like this in the last case you’ve mentioned, sometimes when I’m carrying the weight of the relationship, it’s so easy to slip into resentment. 

These situations therefore require a delicate balancing act. Sometimes, it calls for giving your partner the time and space to do what they need to do. But then sometimes, you need to be like, ‘Hey, I can't keep carrying all this.’ Or, ‘I owe it to you to give you a kick in the butt, because you're not helping you or me or our relationship when you are down in the dumps.’

So this kind of awareness to know what to give is essential.

It's not always easy, but I'm really glad I've been able to do it the last couple of weeks. Although at the beginning of it I was starting to feel overwhelmed, I didn't complain about feeling overwhelmed. When I raised it, I made a point not to make it feel like blame.

I was actually excited about taking my place as your partner or who I am in our relationship, stepping into that and being cool with taking on that extra weight. It's hard but being able to converse about that made it all right.

Cera: True. Anyway, Matthew what are you grateful to your lover for?

Matthew Temple: Okay. Let's start by saying you love people. You love community. But you also have a need to respect your time. Even a while ago, you said, ‘You know what? Doing two social activities in a day is too much for me.’ And because of that, generally, if we go down to Oakland, or San Francisco, we may only get to see one person because it's kind of beyond your bandwidth to do more than that. 

Last weekend though, it was really important to me to double up. I told you that and you were okay with that. When Saturday came though, I wanted us to start the day half an hour earlier than you did. So I stated my disappointment. You were like, ‘I hear you. But I want to do me.’

Interestingly, at the end of the day, I was really glad that you’d fought for that extra bit of time. The day ended up being pretty long. And so my first reason to be grateful to you is that you listened to my need to have a more packed day, and showed up with good energy to it.

The other thing is your decision to handle things with levity. I bet we spoke about this before, we had had a little bit of difficulty around showing up on the podcast, getting the day together and setting everything up to do it or whatever.

So last week you were like, this doesn’t have to be made so difficult. It's so neat, the way you looked at that challenge that we had at the beginning of the week and just said, I don't want to do that anymore. I want levity around it. There was an amazing ease to that decision at that point and it was so nice to see you step into it. All at once my mood relaxed.

Cera: Thank you for saying that.

Matthew Temple: Alright, moving on. We were house sitting last week. Each evening we spent some time in the hot tub. Oh, it was so amazing. 

I am grateful that you spent all that time in the hot tub with me. You made it so wonderful.

I also appreciate that you made a delicious curry last week. It was really good.

Fourth on the list of things I’m grateful to my partner for: she nominated me for the best cuddling and lovemaking award. Last week her host family in LA had organised the Quarantine Awards. I won in my category, thanks to you.

Cera: Haha! You're not usually someone who gets embarrassed, but I liked how you just went red.

Matthew Temple: I did. All of a sudden I broke out in sweat. I was like, ‘This is embarrassing.’ Which is funny because if you know me, I'm pretty hard to embarrass.

Cera: Yeah, it was funny.

Anyway, generally, I think it's good to be reminded about the little things that we do for each other as partners and people we love. And just to hear it back.

Matthew Temple: Exactly. It feels so good to go back into the week and remember the things I'm grateful for. Not in general, but specifically for you as my lover. So I’m grateful to you for coming up with the idea of this Lover’s Journal.

The Importance of Journaling

Cera: Aw, thank you. I do agree with you, and that's one of the reasons I'm loving this journal: it makes you pause to think.

Sometimes life can just fly by. Until, like today, when I sat down to journal my mind was blank. I actually had to think hard about what happened in the week. Life keeps happening. We forget things which turn out to be the most important of all. It’s really amazing then, the result of taking the time and writing it down.

Matthew Temple: Totally. I want to interrupt real quickly and say for any of our readers who really want to get their own Lover’s Journal, ‘Podcast 15’ is your discount code. So if you go on to or will take you there too. When you go to checkout, put in ‘podcast 15’ and you will get a 15% discount on everything you get on top of any other discounts that are already there. 

So with that, let’s go to the next journaling prompt:

Come up with 1 unexpected thing you can do to show your appreciation for your partner this week.

Cera: Umm, if I tell you, is it still going to be a surprise?

Matthew Temple: You're not gonna tell me? Okay, all right. Sorry everybody, you will have to wait till next week to know what all those exciting things are. I'm really excited about this one.

Cera: What is the third prompt for this?

Matthew Temple:

What is something you can do to bring more pizzazz or aliveness into your relationship this week?

Cera: I can share that. I have two in mind but it's not going to be two. You’ll only have one or the other. 

I wrote that I'm gonna take you on a coffee date. And the other thing was that it'd be nice to take you off work from your desk and have some sex during the day.

Matthew Temple: That will definitely bring pizzazz into my day. Sounds good to me.

Also this week or weekend is a perfect week for our home date night which is part of our number two monthly challenge. It should be super fun. We're going to get all dressed up looking fantastic. And have an amazing meal. Either we'll order in or we'll cook. We'll make the house really nice. Light candles. Open a bottle of wine. And we don't even have to limit our wine consumption. Because we don't have to drive anywhere afterwards. 

Cera: I am so excited. 

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