When you're together with someone you love, it may be hard to keep stock of all the ways things are going right. Your mind may magnify some of the issues that bother you, while taking less time to acknowledge all the good things you two share. Taking things for granted in a relationship, however, doesn't have to last.
Not being able to acknowledge everything that's going right in your relationship is perfectly human. Healthy long-term relationships often end up developing a pattern, and those patterns can make it hard for you to view your relationship in a new light.
"For couples who get along well and meet one another’s needs, it’s easy to slip into taking one another for granted," Dr. Jess O’Reilly, host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast, tells Bustle. "You function as a team and you balance each other out by dividing daily tasks, emotional labor and the maintenance of the intimate connection in a manner that feels fair and equitable. This is a significant accomplishment and you should be proud and continue to invest in the relationship to maintain this balance." Still, you want to be able to appreciate what your partner does well, in order to have a good perspective on your relationship — and not regret overlooking things as the years go by.
Here are 19 subtle, good things in your relationship you should try not to take for granted, according to experts.
1. Date Nights
Regular date nights may feel like a normal part of your relationship routine, but they're definitely something worth feeling grateful for.
To combat potentially taking this for granted, try asking your partner on a date. "Whether you suggest a candlelit dinner at home for just the two of you or a romantic night out, make a point of spending time alone," clinical psychologist Dr. Carissa Coulston, tells Bustle. Remembering that this is special will help you appreciate your dates more.
If you and your partner are good at listening to one another, that may feel like a natural norm, but not all couples listen to one another.
"If you've been together for years, it can be easy to assume that you know what your partner is thinking," Dr. Coulston says. "But rather than that being a sign that you know your partner better than you know yourself, it can actually make you lazy as you [may] stop actually listening to [them]." So if your partner has never assumed your thoughts, you definitely should not take that for granted.
3. Physical Affection
Having a partner who expresses their positive feelings for you through physical, consensual affection is a really positive thing. Forehead kisses and nighttime snuggles, then, shouldn't be taken for granted.
"If your partner is physically affectionate and you like it, make sure you let them know!" Dr. Jess says. "It’s easy for physical affection to taper off over time, but expressions of appreciation will likely encourage them to continue to show you love through physical touch." And if these expressions of love haven't stopped yet, don't let that become a risk by not expressing your appreciation adequately.
4. Your Partner Works On Being Present
Quality time as a couple is not just about being together, but actively being in the moment as well.
"If your partner shows up and is present when you spend time together, do not take this for granted," Dr. Jess says. "[...] Signs that they’re working on being present with you include turning off their phone while spending time together, carving out time to be alone with you, and formally engaging in mindfulness practices." The quality of the time you spend together is more important than the number of hours, so appreciate the company of your partner while it's happening.
5. Thoughtful Gifts
Not everyone in a relationship is lucky enough to have a partner who gives them "thinking of you" gifts, from a cup of coffee to a flower they picked. If you have a relationship that includes these acts of kindness, be careful not to take it for granted.
"The grand gestures will have less of an impact than small, thoughtful ones in the long run, so show as much thanks for the special tea they’ve chosen for you as you would for a piece of jewelry — just as much thought can go into the former," Dr. Jess says. These little gifts are another way your partner may express their love for you.
6. Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation are an amazing thing. Just because you've heard your partner say they love you many times doesn't mean these words should lose their impact.
"If your partner builds you up, tells you how much they admire you and offers ongoing cheerleading on or offline, it’s easy to get used to their effusive language," Dr. Jess says. "You’ve heard it so many times that you don’t let it sink in. [...] But here’s the thing — they say it because they mean it, so absorb their positive affirmations." A renewed perspective on their praise may keep you from taking it for granted.
7. Your Partner Doing Favors For You
Having a partner do favors for you may not feel like the most glamorous aspect of your relationship, but these sorts of actions are incredibly positive and should never be taken for granted.
"If your partner performs daily favors or other tasks ([for example] picks up your dry-cleaning, drives you to work, buys groceries, makes the bed), they’re likely making your life run more smoothly, reducing your stress levels, providing you with more time for work and self and laying the groundwork for a happier relationship," Dr. Jess says. "Just because they always take out the trash, bring you a coffee, or pick you up from yoga doesn’t mean you don’t need to express appreciation." Find ways to support them in similar ways, and make sure you both acknowledge the everyday kindnesses you two share.
8. The Effort Your Partner Puts In
The simple fact that your partner puts in effort to make your life easier and your relationship smoother is something worth celebrating. Do not take for granted the motivations behind your partner's actions.
"When things are going well, you may take for granted the effort invested to ensure relationship harmony and fulfillment," Dr. Jess says. The results may not always be worthy of rom-com romance, but the motivations are worth a lot too.
9. Your Partner Spiffing Up For You
While not everyone feels the need to do any extra grooming or dressing to impress their partner, your partner occasionally putting in a little extra effort for you is not something to take for granted.
"It's all too easy to get comfortable when you're in a long-term relationship," Dr. Coulston says. So take note if your partner wears the scent you got them, wants you to notice their haircut, or proudly wears something a little fancier for date night. This kind of effort is meant to be appreciated.
10. Random Acts Of Kindness
Random acts of kindness in a relationship can feel lovely in the moment, but may start to be taken as a given if you've been together for a while.
"Whether it’s filling your car with gas, bringing you home leftovers, or saying I love you every morning before leaving for work, there are small rituals within every relationship that should not be overlooked," licensed marriage and family therapist, and certified sex therapist Natalie Finegood Goldberg, tells Bustle. So if you have a partner who does these things unprompted, and not just on special occasions, don't take that for granted.
11. Being Able To Talk Through Problems
Unfortunately, not all couples have the ability to actively work through problems as they come up. If you and your partner have a pattern of solving problems together, then that isn't something to take for granted.
"If you don't get stuck on who's right or wrong; and you keep your focus on what will solve the problem, you can handle all the curve balls life throws at you, with mutual respect and helpfulness," psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., tells Bustle. That strength is something worth celebrating in a relationship.
12. Financial Support
Being in a relationship may mean you have the ability to share financial resources. You may live together, split the cost of going out, or even give and receive financial support when either of you needs it. These things may feel natural after a while, but they're definitely worth appreciating.
It's often easier to do the things you both enjoy when you are splitting the cost of it, David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "This is a very positive aspect of a relationship that it's easy to take for granted." Not every couple has this, so it's important to feel grateful for.
13. Regular Physical Contact
Whether or not your relationship is sexual, having regular physical contact is a really positive thing. This everyday closeness is different than physical affection because it's more about demonstrating comfort, rather than intimacy or romance.
"The benefits of touch are many," Dr. Jess says. " [They include] a reduction in stress hormones, lowered blood pressure, increase in oxytocin levels (associated with bonding and relaxation), [and more]." You may not realize how important your time next to each other on the couch, or holding hands strolling down the street is — but it's worth not taking for granted.
14. Talking About Your Day
Not everyone has the everyday joy of coming home and having someone to share your day with, or even someone to call or text to vent when needed.
"Having a built in person to share some of your simple and basic daily observations with seems unimportant, but when you lose that, you will miss it," Bennett says. "Plus, sharing your day with your partner is good for the health of a relationship." Remember how much better you feel for having someone there to listen, and you can try to avoid taking this for granted.
15. Having A Friend To Do Things With
Being in a healthy relationship means that you likely know exactly who to invite when you find something new and exciting you want to do.
"Most couples do a lot of things together (like go to concerts, festivals, or just watch a movie together)," Bennett says. "It's easy to take that for granted, but many single people have nobody to go to these events with. And, doing these regular things together keeps a relationship strong." If you appreciate the time you spend together, it's valuable to also appreciate the fact that you have someone to spend that time with in the first place.
16. Spending Ordinary Time Together
Just like it's important not to take for granted the dates you go on and the adventures you take, it's also important not to discount the value of shared time doing almost nothing.
"It's very easy to dismiss time together as 'not counting,' unless it's a special date or event," Bennett says. "So, a couple may spend all day together, but because the time wasn't spent in a certain way, a partner may say that time didn't 'count.' However, this regular, seemingly ordinary time together can be very meaningful and certainly 'counts.'" Having someone to spend your time with is something worth feeling grateful for.
17. The Ability To Compromise
Having a partner who can meet you halfway on issues is not something to take for granted. Compromises may not seem romantic, but they're very important.
"Willingness to compromise is another quality that people sometimes take for granted," licensed psychologist Dr. Laura Louis, owner of Atlanta Couple Therapy, LLC tells Bustle. In my private practice [...] I notice that couples who compromise with each other are able to go further and build a relationship that lasts." So if you notice your partner compromising on something, remember to thank them.
18. Having Healthy Arguments
Being able to argue without things getting toxic may not feel like a win; after all, it's still an argument. However, there are certain kinds of arguments that are really unhealthy in relationships, and certain argument styles that are actually quite good.
"Fair fighting is an art that takes awareness and lots of practice, but if your partner goes through the effort of trying to communicate directly and be a respectful listener, the arguments pass much faster with less collateral damage," Finegood Goldberg says. It's important not to take their effort to keep things respectful and civil for granted.
19. Having Autonomy
Some relationships aren't ever able to find a point of balance, where both partners are able to live independent lives. If you are able to have autonomy in your relationship, then, it's best not to take that for granted.
"A healthy amount of space is important in a relationship and is crucial for the long term health of the relationship," Finegood Goldberg says. "So when you find yourself getting annoyed that your significant other isn’t begging you not to go out for your regular night out, take it as a sign of respect from your partner. It means they are secure in the relationship and want you to be happy in your friendships, which is invaluable." Having found a partnership that still wants you two to live your separate lives is something to be grateful for.
In a healthy relationship, taking stock of all the small ways your partner supports you may feel impossible. Still, practicing gratitude in the moment may and keep you happier down the line. Plus, looking back on your relationship in the future, you'll likely feel better having taken less of it for granted.