The most important thing you need to know about how to have a better relationship is to be a better partner first. We cannot cajole or connive people to change. Instead, we have to be the change that we want to see in the relationship. You can do this by improving the quality of your being during your interactions with your partner and the best tool will be your own attentional ability.
Attention is the ability to ‘attend’ to a particular aspect of your awareness. Most people are generally aware of the five senses, but I would like to introduce the senses 6, 7, and 8. In addition to what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel/touch, we also can be aware of our internal body (#6), our thoughts and emotions (#7), and the relational process between ourselves and our partner (#8). It can be difficult to integrate all three simultaneously which is why it takes patience with deliberate practice over time to slowly integrate those into the moment.
How can we control our attention span?
Think of your attentional ability as a flashlight. A flashlight has a certain scope that it covers. If you are in a dark room, you can only visually attend to the scope of what is being covered by the flashlight. Other areas are less clear. Yet, your hand is attached to the flashlight and can voluntarily control what you want to look at. You can use your gripping hand to control where the flashlight goes and the other hand is used to adjust the diameter of the light. During your interactions with your partner consider spending time attending to what your five senses, then proceed to adjusting the lens of the attention to the awareness of your body. What sensations are you noticing in your body while interacting with your partner? Observe and briefly describe the sensations without judgment or evaluation. Then, once you feel comfortable with that level of awareness proceed to the thoughts and feelings in the moment. Again, observing without evaluating or judging. Finally, take in the relational process unfolding between you and your partner.
The practice of moving from ‘me’ to ‘we’ will help you to attend and attune yourself and your partner. One of the biggest complaints I hear as a therapist behind closed doors is the yearning to feel more important to their partner. It is the small things such as attention that can cultivate the deepening of connection between you and your partner. I say this because I have seen it work professionally and personally: The quality of relationship connection is directly related to how much you can attune with your partner.