Intimacy is built in the “micro-connections,” i.e., small love habits, that couples establish and practice daily.
Love is extinguished in their absence.
It’s the little things that count. When it comes to building more intimacy and deeper closeness in your relationship, this is the truth. It is the day in and day out “little connections” that can make or break the feelings of being, and staying, “in love” with your partner.
We all know about “falling in love” and getting married. But what do we know about “staying in love?” It doesn’t just happen by itself; yet, that is what many people assume. Think about the amount of effort and energy exerted in the courting process: dates are planned; outfits are selected; primping is done; one’s best foot is put forward; people are listened to with kindness and acceptance. Once we marry, move in together or commit, we believe that the courtship is over and we can relax. We stop making an effort to continue courting the person we fell in love with.
Staying in love requires conscious effort to “do the little things that make a big difference.” Here are 11 Quick and Easy Ways to Improve Your Relationship:
1. Compliment Your Partner – Are you in the habit of complimenting your partner? If not, start doing it in a genuine way. “You are such a caring husband.” “I love the way you kiss me.” “You look hot tonight.” You can always find something. Make this a habit. It feels good.
2. Express Gratitude for the Little Things – Do you thank each other, even for the “things you are supposed to do anyway?” After 29 years, Bob and I still thank each other for cooking, cleaning up the dishes, doing laundry, helping each other. It may sound trite, but it keeps us having an appreciative attitude, not taking each other for granted.
3. Listen Mindfully to Your Partner’s Needs – If you listen carefully to your partner’s desires, needs and concerns, they will feel heard, supported and respected. Stop what you are doing, look in their eyes, focus on the meaning of their words. Paraphrase back in your own words to make sure you understand. Ask if they’re just venting or would like your advice.
4. Create a Time Each Day to Be Electronics-Free – In our practice, we very often hear that daily, when couples share the small window of time together at home, one or both are on their laptop or cell phone. It’s certainly easy to get distracted by the non-stop activity on the internet but it takes away from relationships. Set an “electronics-free” hour at night so you can connect.
5. Ask Your Partner How You Can Help Them – Acts of service let your partner know their hard work is appreciated and that you’re a team in doing whatever is needed with kids, around the house, and with the business of the household.
6. Give Your Partner a 10-Second Hug – I love 10-second hugs. So often our hugs and kisses outside the bedroom are so quick that we miss the moments of connection that feel very loving. Try it. You will see the difference. Can you spare 9 more seconds than the usual hug, to pause and appreciate the moment?
7. Plan a Date – This happens naturally before marriage or living together. Then most people fall down on the job. Continuing to court each other is necessary to keep the love, intimacy and connection alive. Too many couples become overly child focused and don’t take time for the relationship. Continuing to date is vital.
8. Catch Your Partner Doing Something Right – We always catch our partners doing the “wrong” things. How about trying to catch them doing something right? When Bob takes the initiative to do something I usually have to ask for, I catch it and thank him. It feels good being appreciated and encourages the person to do more. This goes for your kids too.
9. Do Small, Thoughtful Gestures – Think about what your partner would appreciate. Is it flowers, a backrub, a love note? Something that lets them know you are thinking about them. These mean a lot. Bob writes me little notes and I have kept them for years.
10. Ask Your Partner What Would Make Them Feel More Connected/Loved – We each receive love in different ways. It’s vital to know how your partner needs to receive love from you. Often, I ask couples to complete this statement: I feel loved when you… You and your partner can make your own lists and then share them with each other. Then you have to do them, of course. A wonderful book about this is: The Five Love Languages.
11. Talk About Sex – Couples don’t talk about sex enough. The only way to keep the flame alive is to keep feeding it and fan the fire. Ask your partner to write down what they like best about your intimate connection and what would make it better. You do the same. Then share your responses with each other.
It’s not hard to improve your relationship. It’s a matter of being thoughtful and communicative. With our busy lives we may “forget” to make ourselves a priority. But if you don’t, love may grow cold. So, share this article with your partner and do some of these little things.
“The most relevant gestures we miss from our everyday interactions aren’t the most grandiose. The subtle little here and there gestures are sometimes of profound depth, more than the grandiose we expect or see.”
– Ufuoma Apoki