Healthy Relationships: Little Things Mean a Lot
Here's our relationship advice:
- Don't take the "little things" for granted. In the early stages of a healthy relationship, every thoughtful gesture or attentive act, however small, is appreciated and acknowledged. But after five or 10 or 15 years of wedded bliss, and in the midst of the pressures and chaos of child-reading, partners tend to become "invisible" to each other.
- Small acts of caring— making the coffee, keeping the kids quiet so she can work, putting up shelves in the closet, buying his favorite soft drink— still take place every day, but they may not even generate a "thank you" as they did years before.
- It's your job to not become invisible, just as much as it's your partner's job to notice. Make a pleasant side-comment to things you do; maybe he'll take more notice: "Here's your coffee. I made it just so I could give you a kiss when I delivered it," or, "I like doing things for you," can make all the difference. And return the favor, too: If he does something nice for you, make the "Thank you" memorable.
- Realize that not all problems or complaints are your responsibility to solve, You're checking your emails and hubby comes up behind you and places his hand on your shoulder. He asks, "What're you doing?" You mumble an answer; he leaves. He probably isn't even annoyed, but you missed an opportunity to "complete the circuit." Imagine if you had taken his hand and rubbed it while you told him you were catching up on emails. Completing the circuit is a way to make small encounters more electric and bland moments more flavorful. And it takes just a few seconds more.
- Reduce how often you say: "Not now, I'm busy;" "Maybe later;" "I don't care;" and "Do we have to?" There is nothing wrong with those comments per se. But when they appear too often, they can be warning signs of missed opportunities, and both parents can develop a kind of lethargy.
- Smile more and show more affection. Couples in a rut don't smile that often. Smiling is one of those magical acts that actually makes the person doing it feel better— even when there is little to feel happy about— and works wonders with the person on the receiving end. A smile from your spouse can make you feel suddenly attractive, desired and appreciated. It's a pretty big payoff for such a small gesture. A healthy relationship just takes some attention.