Savoring to maintain relationship satisfaction
An ongoing challenge for SOF couples is the amount of time spent apart due to deployments, training schedules, and TDYs.  Such demands create long-distance relationships out of many marriages and partnerships.

By: Family - Relationships - 11/15/2018

“Up-regulating” positive emotions through savoring.  Research on up-regulating positive emotions offers some valuable insights into how to maintain satisfaction in long distance relationships.  “Up-regulating” is when a person engages in strategies to create, maintain, and enhance positive emotions.  Putting effort into preserving joy, pride, and contentment can reduce negativity.  In the short term, your attention is on aspects of your relationship that generate pleasant feelings.  In the long-term, up-regulating can improve your overall health, wellness, and resilience.

Savoring is one up-regulating strategy in which an individual intentionally chooses to pay attention to past, present, and future experiences and purposefully tries to appreciate these experiences.  When you savor, you hone in on the positives of the situation and replay them in your mind.  The focus is on prolonging or even intensifying the good emotions you attach to a situation, you savor the experience.  You might often have fleeting thoughts or memories that quickly pass by.  To intentionally savor is to almost relive something in a deliberate and more
time-intensive way.  Savoring can increase happiness and might even help you gain a new perspective or insight into your problems.

Research On Savoring

Research on the impact of savoring in long-distance relationships suggests it can intensify positive feelings towards your partner and thereby increase or maintain relationship satisfaction.  Savoring is a nonphysical way to activate optimistic emotions and encouraging memories.

Stimulating such feelings can enhance your sense of security and preserve the closeness of a relationship when you and your spouse are in different locations.  Relationship savoring can also temporarily reduce undesirable emotions towards your partner.  As a result, it might benefit your long-distance relationship to incorporate savoring into a regular routine.  Doing so can activate positive sentiments to maintain connection with your partner.

Savoring Isn’t For Everyone

However, savoring doesn’t work for everyone.  Savoring enhances a relationship that is alreadysatisfying.  It’s most effective for people with at least moderate relationship satisfaction who seek to maintain or improve those levels.  If you’re consistently uncomfortable in your relationship and rate yourself as having low relationship satisfaction, savoring might not be helpful.  This is true for people who have trouble sharing their thoughts and feelings with their partner.  If it’s a challenge to feel close to your partner even when she or he is home, then savoring when you’re apart might not be helpful.  In fact, savoring can create more distress in such situations, so don’t try it if this is the case.

How To Practice Savoring

If you feel steadily satisfied with your relationship and want to maintain it while apart from your partner, consider the following:

  • Think about a positive experience you had together or a memory of your relationship, andreally focus on that experience—a time you felt loved, accepted, protected, and cherished by your partner.

  • Think about where you were when the experience happened and recall as many details as possible.

  • Engage all your senses:  Focus on what it felt like to be there—what you heard, what you smelled, what you saw, and what, if anything, you tasted.

  • Ask yourself:  What time of day was it?  What were you wearing?  What was your partner wearing?  What thoughts did you have during this experience?  How did you feel?

Using these questions, take 2 minutes to relive the memory in as much detail as possible.  Focus on just this memory and all the aspects of it that you can recall.  Also relive the thoughts and feelings you had while the experience was happening, as well as what you’re feeling right now.

For satisfying relationships at a distance, savoring can help partners maintain connection and fulfillment.  It can create a sense of security between partners.  SOF couples might benefit from savoring to help them get through frequent deployments and TDYs/TADs. deployment cycles.

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