The pure and simple truth is the things you focus on are the things that grow and flourish. It’s not magic, though it seems to be something almost all of us forget once our lives settle into a routine.

Relationships, to put it simply, take practice. The uncomfortable, consistent kind.

Despite what so many people believe thanks to all of the “happily ever after” stories we’ve been fed, there is not an end point to practicing being in relationship.

You don’t get to coast after doing a certain amount of work or doing a handful of helpful things. Though, as you strengthen your skills, it does become a heck of a lot easier and less awkward.

Think of a relationship like a garden.

As long as you are tending to them with a tiny bit of daily maintenance, they can be gorgeous, breathtaking, and thriving. A place of comfort and peace, something that blooms and buzzes with life, even offering nourishment and sustenance.

Ignore a garden for a few days, and you’ll have some weeds to pull and a little tidying up to do.

Let your garden go unattended for weeks, months, or even years, and you’ll have a whole lot of VERY hard work to put in for a fair amount of time before you’re back to healthy, manageable soil and plants. (I implore you, dear reader, do not wait until you’re in crisis mode and then expect to transform your relationship in a matter of days at the do-or-die stage).

So, what are your priorities?

Take a good look at where you’re putting your limited time and energy each day.

How are you fostering connection? How are you inviting vulnerability and laughter? What small gestures are you taking EVERY SINGLE DAY to check in, to share, to connect, to admire the wonder that is this person in your life, to let them know what they mean to you?

It’s not about whisking your sweetheart off to Paris once a year. Research has shown that small, daily gestures are endlessly more impactful than rare, grand gestures.

Folks in thriving relationships know how critical it is to take 30 seconds or a few minutes several times per day to reach across the divide and strengthen that bridge.

A long hug.

A sweet text with an inside joke.

A compliment that’s well-timed and sincere.

A question about their day and then actually listening with curiosity.

A ritual before bed.

These are not time consuming, but they are love-nurturing. If you’re too busy for these, you need to take a serious look at why you’re even in relationship in the first place.

And no – deciding on dinner, negotiating who will go to the grocery store, or rushing through a quick phone call about your hectic day doesn’t count.

Prioritize what and who is important to you. I guarantee it isn’t your phone.

Click to tweet that statement!

Because my guess is that the person sitting next to you is a heck of a lot more valuable to you than seeing if you got any comments on Facebook, and yet how many of us have our phones out when we’re sharing a meal or settling in for bed?

Here is my invitation to you.

Get crystal clear on how you’re prioritizing your connection with a partner by finding ways to really share yourself at least once per day.

Ask yourself what you want to be cultivating in your life. If it’s love and joy and playfulness and feeling seen, then take a look at how you’re showing up for the people who love you.

In the end, will it be the number of social media shares or the points scored in the football game that matters or seeing the eyes of your lover crinkle with joy when you ask about their day because you genuinely want to know?