I mentioned recently that belief in the other person is the "atom" of all successful relationships.
The beginning, health, and longevity of all relationships revolve around one simple nugget: expressed belief in the other person.
Think for a moment about what it means to you when someone you know expresses a belief in you, in your capabilities, in your future... you begin to soar. You want to be around that person more.
Many people will tell you that they find "trust" to be the essential element in all successful relationships. But upon what is trust based? The belief that the other person will do what is expected, and if you didn't believe that, you wouldn't trust them. Trust comes after belief.
Belief is never skeptical. It's never pessimistic. Belief is optimistic and positive and hopeful. Belief is therefore attractive. It's belief that "gets" another person. Belief covers the gaps and the flaws of the other person, choosing to overlook those and choosing instead to cheer the person overcoming their flaws.
In a marriage, belief in each other is the essence of the marriage. You can see that by removing belief. Removed belief makes comments like "I can't rely on you," or "What makes you think you can do that," or "What a waste of time." Disbelief treats us and talks to us like children. It issues backhanded compliments like, "For someone supposedly good at abc, you're certainly xyz." Merited or not, removed belief erodes the relationship's underpinnings. People distance themselves from the person expressing removed belief.
Some women find deeply Christian men attractive, perhaps because of shared faith, but I think more because a man capable of showing passionate faith appears more likely to deeply believe in his wife and his family. A person wants to be believed in like that. We look for signs of it in others around us. It doesn't have to be an outward religious faith - a person who deeply believes in a cause is said to be attractive for soulful devotion to the cause.
Love is, in many ways, an expression of faith. It looks with the infamous "rose-colored glasses" upon its object of fascination and sees only good. When we see our spouse look with desire on someone else, it erodes our belief in ourselves.
What does belief look like?
Belief brings out the best in the other person. Belief looks on those strengths possessed and pulls them forward and outward, for the benefit of all around. Belief celebrates demonstrated strength and cheers on more of it.
It's not that one person improves or makes better another person. It's that the person brings out the best in the other so that they feel recognized and rewarded for their strength.
The longest and most successful relationships, whether consciously or unconsciously, bring out the best in the other person, not because that best was spawned by the relationship or the other person, but because that best was already there and was noticed and was cherished.
"I believe in you" - powerful words. Optimistic words. They're capable of helping us rise to our potential, and they can bring out the best in us.
Everyone around us needs the best in us. And if they're not helping to bring out the best in us, perhaps they shouldn't be around us.
ETC: Jonathan said in a previous comment (snipped):
I've usually reduced it down to expressions of respect and sincere appreciation. Interestingly, these things tend to show up higher in the hierarchy of needs for men than women.That's a curious question... how would women rate belief as an essential element?
I talked to my mom about this, and she's been a therapist for over 30 years. She understands where belief matters... but I haven't asked her to scale it against other things.
Think of sports teams... the more rabid the fans, the more they push their team to perform. If men are more susceptible to measures of belief, then certainly women should esteem it if only to boost their man to greater heights.
Expressed worry, doubt, fear... those aren't belief. That's not to say that they aren't valid, but there's a way to do it that doesn't subtract and erode.