A lot of us want better relationships, but not all of us are willing or able to put in the effort to develop them. So what if we told you there are multiple ways to improve your relationship that don't take much time, including 20 ways to improve your relationship in less than a minute?
It's true! Experts say 60 seconds can go a long way, if you use them wisely. In fact, "the most beautiful elements of a relationship — like romance, love, joy, friendship, fun, commitment, trust, and emotional intimacy — don’t flourish in lofty gestures," Holly Parker, Ph.D., a practicing psychologist, Harvard lecturer, and author of If We're Together, Why Do I Feel So Alone?, tells Bustle. "They thrive in the world of the everyday, in those caring deeds that, repeated regularly, become little habits of affection that color a couple’s life and give the relationship its own unique emotional hue."
When you do these nice gestures often enough, they add up to create an overall happier vibe. Parker uses this analogy: "Recall a time you went for a walk or a run. A step or two won’t take you far, right? But if you repeat that step over and over again, you can travel for miles. The same is true of the steps we take with our partner. Relationships bloom in the details."
If you're ready to start taking the steps toward a thoughtful, loving relationship, here are some quick ways to put a smile on your partner's face.
1. Send a cute "thinking of you" text.
It doesn't take much time to send a text, perhaps on your lunch break or right before bed, just to say "I'm thinking of you." And yet the positive impact it'll have on your partner? Immeasurable.
2. Give them a compliment.
Maybe you tell them first thing in the morning how much they brighten your day, or you compliment their outfit, or say how inspired you are by their ability to read through an entire stack of books in a month. Whatever it is, small compliments and comments like these add to that aforementioned positive vibe.
3. Give them a hug!
Physical touch means a lot to lots of people, which is why a hug, a hand hold, or a snuggle on the couch can truly improve your relationship.
4. Clear or wash their dishes for them.
Helping out in small ways — like picking up orange juice without being asked, clearing the dishes, or quickly doing a chore that isn't technically yours — are all actionable ways to show your partner how much you care, especially when they seem tired or busy.
5. Tuck them in when they go to bed.
Even if you don't go to bed at the same time, you can still tuck your partner in as a way to ending the day together. Sit by them and rub their feet, read a book aloud together, or simply give them a kiss and say goodnight.
6. Leave a sticky note that says "I love you" on the mirror.
What could be cuter than finding an unexpected message? You could also tuck a note in their coat pocket, for them to find later.
7. Send them an e-card.
If your partner's inbox is typically flooded with work emails, surprise them with a fun e-card. Bonus points if it's truly funny.
8. Share something awesome that they said, wrote, or created on social media.
Go ahead and boost them up by blasting it out to all your friends, family, and followers.
9. Throw in a piece of candy while you're buying groceries.
One of the best parts of being a couple is learning what your partner likes, and surprising them with it. So if you're at the grocery store and happen to spot their favorite candy (or soda, or flavor of chips) throw it in the cart.
10. Put on their favorite song as they come home from work.
It's a small gesture, but one that shows you want them to be happy.
11. Ask them if there's something new they want to try in bed.
It's not every day couples feel comfortable talking sex, so go ahead and be the one to broach the subject. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you hear — and your partner will likely be grateful you asked.
12. Text them a funny GIF.
Because inside jokes are the best.
13. Ask if there's anything fun they want to do over the weekend.
This will feel especially nice if your partner is usually the one to come up with all the plans.
14. Get up from your chair and give them a kiss while you're working.
A gesture like this one promotes intimacy in your relationship, and that's so important if you want to stay connected.
15. Put on an item of clothing or piece of jewelry they gave you.
... and tell them how much you like it.
16. Share a great memory between you that you still think about.
Sitting around drinking coffee in silence? Don't hesitate to share a cute memory, if one comes to mind.
17. Send them an article that made you think of them.
Just like a text, it'll show that they're on your mind. Also, that you've been listening to what they say, and are in touch with their interests.
18. Offer to get them a glass of wine, water, or coffee from the kitchen.
Small courtesies like this one really do add up!
19. Thank them for something nice they did for you recently.
You don't have to go overboard, but saying thanks again — for a nice dinner, a thoughtful gift, a back rub — shows you're aware and appreciate of all your partner does for you.
20. Get their attention just to say, "Hey, I love you."
Because sometimes it's nice to look up from your phones, and acknowledge that you have a pretty great thing goin'.
As a relationship goes on, it becomes easier and easier to take each other for granted. That's why it's so important to keep trying to please each other like you did in the beginning, in small but meaningful ways. Sometimes, all it takes to reconnect is a minute of your time.
Holly Parker, Ph.D., psychologist, lecturer, author
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