11 Little Ways To Strengthen Your Relationship

It can sometimes feel like the monumental moments are what make a relationship. The first date. The first night spent together. The proposal, the wedding, the first child. While those are all things that are obviously a huge part of your narrative with your partner — and the stories you recount at dinner parties and double dates — the reality is that relationships are made up of a million tiny little things that happen every day. Those tiny things build up and up and up and, ultimately, are really what your relationship is comprised of, even if you never tell another soul about them. But here’s the problem: some of those tiny things are good and some are bad and the secret to having a successful relationship is making sure that the number of good tiny things outweighs the number of bad. So, for example, if you wanted to put it in one-to-one terms, make sure the number of smiles you give your partner every day outnumber the number of eye rolls you give them.

Now, obviously, there are a whole bunch of other factors that affect how well a relationship goes but I honestly don’t think any is more important than making sure you treat each other well, every day. Everything else flows from that. With that in mind, here are 11 things you can do every day to make sure that the tiny good things outweigh the bad ones.

1. Ask How They Slept

When you wake up in the morning, ask your partner how they slept. Or, if that’s not your style, do something else consistently as soon as you both wake up — like making them a cup of coffee before you even say a word or giving them a quick cuddle before jumping out of bed — to show that you’re thinking of them and that you care. It can be something tiny but it’s a good way to cement your connection first thing, before your day even really gets started.

2. Tell Them The Things That You Love About Them

I was talking to a friend about my partner recently and I told her something that I really admire about him. I realized almost immediately that it wasn’t something I’d told him and resolved to do that as soon as possible.

We all have things that we love about our partners, from little things like how they smile to big things like how they’re always positive in their approach to the world. Rather than keeping them inside or only telling them to your friends, make the effort to tell your partner. It makes a difference.

3. Say Thank You

Thank you for taking care of the dishes. Thank you for making dinner. Thank you for texting me to ask how my day is going. Thank you for bringing me flowers. One of the major pitfalls of a long-term relationship is that you can start taking your partner for granted. Making a practice of saying “thank you” — and meaning it — simultaneously reminds you not to take your partner for granted and lets them know that you appreciate them. Win-win.

4. Make Eye Contact

On the same note of not taking your partner for granted, eye contact is huge. Especially when you live together, it’s easy to slip into almost treating your partner like furniture. Make eye contact with them when you’re talking, even if it’s about the little stuff like what you want for dinner.

5. Tell Them They’re Beautiful

Male or female or somewhere else on the gender scale, tell them they’re beautiful. Do it when you think it because chances are you think it a couple of times a day and keep it to yourself. Share! It matters!

6. Do The Things They Don’t Like Doing

My boyfriend hates taking out the trash. I don’t love it, but I usually do it anyway because I know it grosses him out more than it does me. On the flip side, I hate organizing logistical stuff and since we’re digital nomads, there are a lot of logistics in our lives. He takes care of those for me because he knows how much it drives me crazy.

Taking care of some of the unpleasant stuff of life for your partner is an awesome way to show them you love them every single day.

7. Have A Phone-Free Meal

Give your partner (and kids, if you have them) one time during the day when there are no digital distractions. When I was growing up (pre-cell phones, mostly) our table was a phone-free zone. Even now when we have family dinners, cell phones aren’t allowed at the table. Life pulls us in a million different directions and our phones are the main culprits. You can take half an hour a day to really focus on each other, without your phones.

8. Don’t Focus Too Much On “Fair”

This is a surprisingly hard one, especially for those of us who came from big families with lots of siblings. It’s easy to start parsing out what’s “fair” in a relationship but it can lead to major resentment. Instead, work on finding a balance between what both of you contribute — but do so with a focus on what you’re both capable of, best at, and interested in doing. Leave “fair” to children because, as mom always said, “Life isn’t fair!”

9. Hug!

I’m a huge hugger when it comes to the people I love, if not so much with randos. (Like don’t worry; I won’t hug you right after we’ve met and I’d prefer you didn’t hug me then either.) A random hug is enough to give me an energy boost that feels like a bite of chocolate. Connecting physically with each other is a great way to remind each other of your connection and also get a little burst of happy hormones.

10. Give Them Space

Everyone (even extreme extroverts like me) needs space. While a lot of the tips here are ones that involve you actively doing something to or with your S.O., it’s also important to remember to give them the space they need. How much space, exactly, varies from person to person but pay attention to your partner’s signals about how much they need. As old school and kind of gross as it looks now, there’s a reason “man caves” are a thing, right? We all need our down time.

11. Kiss Before Bed

Or give a hug. Or just say “Good night; I love you.” It’s small but good way to round out your day of loving.

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Images: Giphy (11); Christophe LEUNG/Flickr