I’m going to tell you this and you’re going to be disappointed.
It’s not some awesome sex trick, it’s not a diet or body makeover, it’s not a recipe you can whip up in the kitchen. It’s actually really simple, sweet, and small.
Almost boring, this advice I have for you. But trust me, it transforms relationships that are hung up on the rocks of despair. It strengthens even the flimsiest of bonds. It repairs trouble that couples have not been able to banish from their relationship for decades. And it’s no big deal…
Are you ready for this?
Do nice, small things daily.
I’ve talked about this before, but today let’s dig a little deeper into why and how this works, and how you can use it to keep (or bring back) the magic you remember when you were first dating.
When I tell my couples in counseling to do small, nice things daily, many look at me as if to say, “Really? That’s it?” And then I tell the story about my daily first cup of coffee.
See, when my husband is home, he always gets up before me and brings me a cup of coffee as soon as he knows I’m awake. He’s brought me hundreds, if not thousands of cups of coffee, and do you know, I still think he’s the most amazing man EVER, each and every time he does that. I never get tired of it, and I never stop thinking how awesome he is for doing it. Do you think that has some effect on my appreciation of him? You better believe it.
In families with small children, especially, the parents are often so wrapped up in serving the children’s needs that they forget to take time to notice, let alone do something extraordinary for their spouse. However those little things yield huge results in marital bliss. (It could even stoke the fires for better sex life!)
Small things contribute to a healthy relationship in ways beyond measure, as long as the mindset behind it is one of kindness and caring. Every time you make a point to do some tiny thing (leave a note, get his car washed, bring a flower) you feed the soul of your coupledom, not only for the recipient, but for the giver, too.
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander
Studies have shown that the person who performs the small gesture of love actually feels as good as the person receiving it. A recent study by University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project revealed that within a marriage both the giver and the taker enjoyed the side effects of generosity. There is no difference. So even as you are pouring the coffee for your partner, you are filling up with all the benefits of altruism in addition to the knowledge that you are making your partner happy.
Fake it ‘til you make it.
What if you need to remind yourself to do these things? Does that count toward the intended result? Will your partner still feel loved and cherished if you have to set an alarm to remind yourself to stop and buy her favorite wine on the way home from work, or to call him in the middle of a business trip just to say I love you. The answer is a resounding yes. Even when your partner knows you have to think about acting in a giving way, the message is still “I love you enough to want to put in the effort.” That goes a long way.
Find some new ideas. Have you ever seen those coupon books for couples that encourage redeeming and giving gestures of love? You see them around Valentines Day and Christmas at the bookstores, etc. Check online to books, and websites that promote small examples of love and kindness. You don’t have to come up with your own small ideas. In fact, chances are, you’re thinking too big!
That small kind thing could be something as miniscule as opening the door for your wife, if you’ve stopped doing that over time. Small changes get big time results because they appear on the radar as something new and unexpected. But remember my story about the morning coffee; even things you’ve done countless times before count toward a culture of caring and appreciation in your partnership.
Give freely. One more thing, if you’re doing something nice in hopes of getting something nice in return, that’s not a good enough motive to sustain the appreciation culture. You have to do it from your heart. More than likely your spouse will want to reciprocate if you proactively introduce something new, small and different to your relationship.
Give it a try and let me know the result. Feel free to add it in the comments below. And if you have a great idea to share, please do!
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