Life has a sneaky habit of getting in the way of love. When you first start out, you spout cute, romantic things to each other all the time. Then, as life goes on, you find yourself saying less of the nice stuff you should be saying every day and more stuff life "we need to get some more spray for the bathroom" and "do you think these sweats are too dirty to wear to go get coffee?"
When I worked as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and as a Planned Parenthood-Certified Responsibly Sexuality Educator, one of the biggest obstacles couples faced in building healthier relationships was communication. Not just how to talk to each other, but what exactly to say, too. We all say and hear things in different ways, and we all need to hear different things at different times.
Dr. Steven Stosny, Ph.D., in an article for Psychology Today, said that the most important thing you can say to your partner is, "Teach me how to love you, and I will teach you how to love me." According to Stosny, our brains are very adaptive to learning, even when it comes to emotions. He calls this a communication strategy that leads to a safe and satisfying relationship. By saying the following things to your partner everyday, you're not only being kind, but you're teaching your partner about the kind of relationship and communication you want.
1. I Love You
Ah, love. It makes the world go round. If you love your honey, make sure you say it. You may think your love is implied or that your actions speak louder than words, but the words are important, too. Whether it's through a simple text, a cute handwritten note, or just a simple, "Hey, I love you, you dork," the words are more important than you know, probably.
2. I Like You
If you are going to be in a long-term relationship, you're signing up for a situation in which you choose to love someone who you don't always like. Basically, your partner is going to make you mad. Sometimes for long stretches of time. Reassuring them you still like them can be just as important as reassuring them that you still love them.
3. How Was Your Day?
Checking in and really listening when it comes to the ins and outs of your daily lives is a great way to keep connected and avoid growing apart. It also shows that you care about what happens and how work, school, and life affects your partner. Being a good cheerleader to your partner is key to being supportive and respectful of each other, and showing interest in what your partner is interested in is part of that as well.
4. I Respect You
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. You don't have to break out into song, or even say the exact words "I respect you," but being considerate of your partner's time and space, as well as supporting their choices are good ways communicate respect. If you haven't heard, love is respect, and respect is love — and both of those things are incredibly important to a healthy, happy relationship.
5. You Make Me Happy
When you have something good going on, it's important to knowledge it. If your partner makes you happy, let them know. Expressing happiness is also a powerful way to guide your partner toward how you like to be treated. Your partner will notice the moments that make you happy much more if you express that happiness.
6. You're The Best
In case you missed it the first time I mentioned it, being your partner's biggest cheerleader is one of the best ways to build relationship satisfaction, according to a study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 91, No. 5). Make sure to let your partner know how proud you are for even the smallest accomplishments.
7. You're Gorgeous
Sweatpants, messy bun. Maybe a cutoff T-shirt and old, ripped boxers. No makeup. Coffee stains... everywhere. Those images are probably more common than full makeup and head-to-toe glamour. Still, it's just as important to let your partner know that you are attracted to them now as it was in the beginning.
8. I Want You
Does your partner still make your heart do cartwheels? Let them know! We all like to feel sexy and wanted. Even playful banter, or something as basic as flirting with your partner can benefit your relationship in a crazy amount of ways, according to Dr. Laura Berman, PhD in an article for EverydayHealth.
9. I'm Sorry
Hopefully you won't need to say this every day, but if you do, then say it! You're not perfect. You never will be. But saying your sorry when you've done something hurtful to your partner is a caring act that demonstrates that you care about their feelings.
While there are multiple ways to communicate these concepts, sometimes it's best to just come out and say them. Doing so every day is a sweet way.