Small Gestures build genuine sense of Love
Many couples show love in small ways, which helps to develop and reinforce trust in relationships. Small things build the foundation of fondness and friendship for long term relationships. Small things can make the difference between relationships between “Masters” verses “Disasters”. Often when one partner leaves the house for work or comes home at the end of the day, the Masters look forward to reconnecting with their partner. Sometimes I heard them say that she looks forward to a hug and finding out how their day went.
A study by researchers at Penn State University suggest large gestures aren’t needed to show your partner love. In fact, this team found that small gestures, such as hugging, holding hands, and regular acts of kindness all top the list of how most people report feeling loved and appreciated.
Appreciate your partner even when apart
Research by Dr Julie and John Gottman suggests that what is think about our partner when we are away from them can impact the relationship. How often do you think about your partner? What comes to mind? Bringing to mind the qualities that you appreciate actions that they have taken increases the sense of connection. Alternatively, do you spend your time thinking about their inadequacies or problems or what you don’t like about them? This tends to build distance and resentment. Take the time to think of the positive qualities and actions when you are apart. Dr Seligman has shown that being thankful in other aspects of your life improves how we feel about ourselves. Not surprising that building a list of characteristics, events and special times that you are grateful in your partner improves your relationship.
Look for ways to show love with small gestures
Gestures and action can be done in five minutes or less. In “The All Or Nothing Marriage,” psychologist Dr. Eli J. Finkel explains that many easy actions, aimed at improving your relationship can be done in a short time. For example, you can say what you find attractive in your partner, write your partner a charming love note, or cuddle them. Create some fun and leave love notes in surprising places.
A six second kiss
Share a six second kiss each day. John Gottman suggests six-second kiss is a kiss with potential. Whilst we don’t know scientifically how kissing works, we do know what it feels like to experience a kiss. Often, we remember our first kiss. This powerful act of love can be cultivated and treasured.
Find out your partner’s love languages and focus on those areas
Much research has looked at ways to show love. Dr Gary Chapman defined five broad areas of love, which are physical affection, quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation and giving gifts. These areas give insight into the different ways receive and show love. The categories can help us to extend our routine or regular pattern of communications and ask us to think about what our partner might most appreciate. Find out what your and your partner’s love languages to best communicate love.
Create daily check in conversations
Having a daily check-in conversation is recommended by Dr. Julie and John Gottman by spending at 15-20 minutes daily having a conversation with your partner to buffer the stressors of daily life. Set this up as a regular dependable time. Be available to listen. As well, be on your partner’s team rather than siding with the difficult client, boss or colleague. Some people enjoy having a drink or chat when making dinner or even in the pool or bath! It is worth looking at your schedules of family members and setting aside time when you are both available. Technology can be mobile and with us 24/7 if we allow it, so think about unplugging and going for a brief walk or having a cup of your favorite beverage.
Make a habit out of using kind and polite words
How do you speak to your partner? Does it sound that you take them for granted? Using kind and polite word such as please, sorry, and thank you shows respect to your partner. It conveys messages that you value them. Further, be willing to give compliments to your partner. For example, if they are working towards accomplishing a project at home, then thank them for their work rather than simply expecting them to do things for you.
Request without criticism
One of the four negative characteristics of relationships is criticism. Criticism in the relationship context is bringing up an issue in a way that looks at your partner’s character or personality failing. Learning to make requests without criticising and blaming your partner, can make a big difference in relationships.
For example, when your partner just starts to get ready to go out at the time when you were invited for dinner. A criticism may sound like: “you are always late and never think about other people. I can’t believe that you have left getting ready for dinner so late”. Rather saying this as a complaint may sound like: “I am concerned about our friends and feel frightened when we keep people waiting. I had thought that we agreed to arriving at an event up to only 15 mins after the invited time. This is important to me.” This gives your partner a chance to respond and there is the potential to work out a solution to the common problem.
Take action and offer support to your partner
Offer to help with what is important to your partner. This can include assisting them complete tasks, complete a chore, or run an errand. These positive actions lead to interdependence. As you coordinate your plans with your partner, you create a sense of purpose and shared meaning in your marriage. There will often be rubs in relations with difference in preferences and personality, looking towards the overall goal or bigger picture can help build a sense of cooperation even if the way that you tackle the issue varies.
In “The Relationship Cure,” Dr. John Gottman explains that the small, intentional moments of kindness and connection have more power than isolated, excessive gestures when it comes to creating and sustaining lasting love. Dr. Gottman’s motto is “small things often,” which includes turning towards your partner as much as possible to create a 5:1 ratio of positive interactions to negative interactions.
There is a place for grand gestures
Your relationship with your partner can be enhanced through small acts and words of kindness. It is also valuable to celebrate big events such as anniversaries and birthdays with larger gestures of love and romance, but remember to offer little, daily affection and tenderness to your partner, which are the most important gestures of connection.
This does take energy and commitment to make time for your partner, not just leaving the relationship to the end of a long list of tasks. To continue to be positive towards your partner and seek their best helps to see the relationship flourish. Keep looking for ways to fulfill your relationship. Everyday offer your partner the gift of love and appreciation in small ways!
The opportunity is here. Take up the challenge to do some new things each day. Try it for two weeks and notice what changes.
Little things add up!
What are the next steps:
- Learn more about what is helpful
- Read Book 7 Principles that Make Marriage Work by John Gottman
- Keep practicing and listening to your partner
- Ask your partner what they like
- Tell your partner what you are grateful for
Need more support? our psychologists are happy to speak further about what helps to make your relationships flourish. Have a look at Our Team profile page to see if there is a psychologist who can take the time to understand who you are as a person and overcome life’s challenges to achieve your personal goals and reach your full potential.