The grand, romantic gestures get all the credit when it come to being an appreciative partner, but they're not the only player in the game. The little, easy things that you do to show your partner you appreciate them every single day add up. And they add up in a big way. In fact, according to Pamela Regan, Ph.D., in an article for Psychology Today, the little things are just as important, and sometimes even more important than the big things, because they "represent very important attempts by our partners to establish intimacy and to connect with us emotionally."
"You don't even notice all the things I do for you" was a common complaint I heard when I worked with couples, as both a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator. Showing appreciation is important, even if it's in an easy, small way. It can make a world of difference in your happiness level when you and your partner both start showing your appreciation for each other, both when you do something to prompt appreciation, and also for no reason at all. Here are some easy ways to give your partner that little appreciation boost, because you can never have too many tools in your box when it comes to happy, healthy relationships.
Sometimes what you don't say is as powerful as what you do say. A great way to show your partner you appreciate their existence is to look at the and smile. My wife does this all the time, and there's never been a single smile that didn't go right to the center of my mushy little heart. When you look at your partner and smile, you're saying so much more than just that you appreciate them. You're saying you're happy, lucky, and grateful. It's something you should start doing all the time, and it's free, and it literally takes seconds out of your day. It doesn't get much easier than that.
2. Pay Attention
Paying attention to someone when they speak is validating. It also gives you an arsenal of other ways to show your appreciation. If you listen closely, you'll find opportunities to flex your romance muscle in almost every conversation. If your partner is telling you how their day was crummy because they had to walk in the rain, you can surprise them the next day with an umbrella. And it's not just about gifts. You can show up at their bus stop in your car and drive them when it's raining. Or you can have warm socks and tea ready when they get home. They'll know you were listening and that you appreciate what they have to say.
3. Be Reliable
If you appreciate someone's time, the faith they put in you, the fact that they want to spend their time with you, one of the essential ways to show it is to be reliable. Show up on time. Do what you say you're going to do. Keep your dates and your promises. When you're a flake, it's easy to feel unappreciated and taken for granted. Appreciate all the ways your partner makes your life better by making their life better. Or at least, by not making it worse.
Affection is powerful. Just stop in your tracks and give your partner a deem appreciative hug. You can also, touch their shoulder, squeeze their hand, at their knee, or place an open hand on their back, Your touch, at the right moment, can convey appreciation and love in much the same way a smile can. Plus, touch is a basic human need, so it's important to make sure you're affectionate enough anyway, no matter the intent of your affection.
5. Say "Thank You"
It seems like common sense, but a simple "thank you" is free and takes very little time and effort. If you're sincere your partner will feel your appreciation. There are probably a lot more opportunities to say "thank you" during the day than you realize. Look for them, and use them as an opportunity to become a more appreciative partner. Did your partner hand you the salt? Say it then. Did your partner give you your mail? How about thanking your partner for asking how your day went?
6. Do Little Helpful Things
Being helpful is like appreciation gold. When I'm really appreciative for my partner, one of the things I like to to do show it is to handle one of her chores that I know she hates. Or maybe I'll do something to make her life easier, like get her work clothes out, or make her lunch. It's less about what you do to show your appreciation and more about the effort you put forth. Maybe walk the dog an extra time or brush the snow off their car. The possibilities are endless.
7. Make Small Sacrifices
If your partner knows you hate peas with a fury strong enough to fuel a jet plane, yet you make the anyway, that's the kind of small sacrifice that shows you care. The point of the small sacrifice is to show your partner that you appreciate them enough to put their needs and desires ahead of your own sometimes. In a world that's increasingly self-focused, this is a radical act of unselfishness that shows not only appreciation, but selflessness and love.
I'm sure your partner would also appreciate the occasional gift or romantic gesture. But on the whole, part of being a good partner is learning to show your appreciation in the little things, and in little ways, every single day.
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