We all have them…”Habits.” The Free Dictionary defines a habit as “A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.” It’s an act we learn to repeat, that recurs involuntarily without having to think about it.

Most often we think of habits as “bad.” How often have you heard others say:

two women outdoors hugging happyYou have a habit of …

  • Being defensive
  • Not listening when I talk
  • Cracking your knuckles
  • Swearing
  • Overeating when you are upset
  • Talking with your mouth full
  • Biting your nails
  • Overspending
  • Drinking too much alcohol

Despite the negative connotation, habits can be good or bad. The philosopher, William James says,

We speak, it is true, of good habits and of bad habits; but, when people use the word ‘habit,’ in the majority of instances, it is a bad habit which they have in mind. They talk of the smoking-habit and the swearing-habit and the drinking-habit, but not of the abstention-habit or the moderation-habit or the courage-habit. But the fact is that our virtues are habits as much as our vices. All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits,—practical, emotional, and intellectual,—systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be.

Intentionally creating more love habits builds a stronger relationship. Here are 10 of our favorite love habits and the messages they convey:

  1. Start the day by asking your partner, “How does your day look today?”

    (You’re my best friend and I’m interested in your well-being.)

  2. Give specific compliments – “You look really handsome in that suit.”

    (I admire you.)

  3. Be affectionate – 10 second hugs, kisses, snuggle in bed for 5 minutes

    (I love and feel close to you.)

  4. Express desire – “I look forward to having sex tonight.”

    (I am attracted to you.)

  5. Check in during the day – “How’s your day going?”

    (I care about you.)

  6. Show gestures of love – Bring your partner their favorite candy or flowers

    (You’re special.)

  7. Express appreciation – “Thanks for emptying the dishwasher.”

    (I don’t take you for granted.)

  8. Turn off electronics – “Honey, let’s just sit and talk tonight.”

    (I want to connect with you.)

  9. Communicate in a positive way – Instead of “You never…” try “It would really mean a lot to me if you…”

    (I respect you and take responsibility for my needs.)

  10. Initiate time together – “How about us going on a date Saturday night? I’ll make the arrangements.”

    (Our relationship is important to me.)

People resist changing behavior because they believe it’s hard; it takes time and effort; it takes mindfulness and we already have enough on our minds. But what if creating the new behavior was easy?

BJ Fogg, PhD, Director, Persuasive Tech Lab, Stanford University has studied how to create new behaviors for the long term. He’s developed an easy way to create new habits. Check out his Tiny Habits method. It may change your life.

Bob and I have practiced tiny love habits for years and we can tell you it keeps the love alive, especially at times when we have conflict. A loving connection doesn’t just happen. It’s up to you to create it.

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