For better or worse, all couples have “habits” in their relationships. 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:
You have a habit of…
- Being defensive
- Not listening when I talk
- Cracking your knuckles
- Overeating when you are upset
- Talking with your mouth full
- Biting your nails
- 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.
- 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.)
- Give specific compliments: “You look really handsome in that suit.”
(I admire you.)
- Be affectionate: 10-second hugs, kisses, snuggle in bed for 5 minutes
(I love and feel close to you.)
- Express desire: “I can’t wait to fool around tonight.”
(I am attracted to you.)
- Check in during the day: “How’s your day going?”
(I care about you.)
- Show gestures of love: Bring your partner their favorite candy or flowers
- Express appreciation: “Thanks for emptying the dishwasher.”
(I don’t take you for granted.)
- Turn off electronics: “Honey, let’s just sit and talk tonight.”
(I want to connect with you.)
- 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.)
- Initiate time together: “How about us going on a date Saturday night? I’ll make the arrangements.”
(Our relationship is important to me.)
Bob and I have practiced tiny love habits for years and we can tell you it keeps love alive, especially at times when we have conflict. A loving connection doesn’t just happen. You build it.
Creating love habits in your relationship may take a little effort, but ultimately these behaviors become your automatic response. Here’s why that’s so important:
Dr. John Gottman, world renowned marriage researcher, found a “magic relationship ratio” of 5 to 1 in the best relationships. That is, the most stable and happy couples had five positive interactions for every one negative.
Talk with your partner about the small love habits that would make a big difference to each of you in your relationship. Intentionally creating more joy and positivity will serve you well.
We are here to support you in your relationship journey.
If you and your partner are having trouble communicating, call us now. We are doing online therapy for Individuals and Couples. Call 410-363-2825 or email us now if your relationship is struggling.
Photo credit dawnie12