So much in life is about the little things, isn’t it? The smell of fresh coffee. A cardinal on the bird feeder. The first crocus in spring.
Even so, most of us assume that our greatest happiness comes from life’s big events, like landing our dream job, getting married, or giving birth to a child. While these extraordinary moments create a brief spike in happiness, current research confirms that sustained happiness is derived from life’s ordinary, everyday stuff.
You know, the little things that we do for each other that make life feel good. A soft squeeze on the arm when we’re worried. A trip out in the rain to pick us up at the bus. A gracious offer to go right ahead and eat that last bite of cake.
As couples, we can easily get caught up in life’s endless demands and forget that we aren’t running a business together, that life isn’t all about tasks and results and who’s doing what, when.
Given all our distractions and pressures, it’s no wonder we lose sight of the need for small, loving gestures that, in fact, carry great meaning.
It’s been said that, in the end, the little things are actually the big things, though we don’t realize it at the time.
I say don’t wait to discover what’s truly important. Even if you’re facing big difficulties in your marriage, these small caring gestures may give your relationship a surprising boost.
1. Be here now.
Quality attention. For me it’s better than flowers or a candlelight dinner and I bet I’m not alone. Couples often complain that their days are so over-scheduled that their attention gets pulled from one thing to the next. The last thing they want is to talk to a partner whose nose is in his cell phone.
Think you can multi-task? Think again.
Why not shut down your phone, turn off your TV and walk away from the computer. Tell the kids that, for a least a few minutes, the two of you are off duty.
Face each other. Make eye contact. Be fully there.
If you spend more than fifteen minutes a day giving each other your undivided attention, talking about something other than kids or logistics, you’re a rare exception.
2. Drop everything.
No matter how busy, frazzled, or tired we are, we all have ten seconds to connect with each other when we walk through the door at the end of the day.
A simple Honey, I’m home, followed by a smile or a hug proves that there really is no place like home.
3. Go the extra mile.
Most of the time, going the extra mile requires little more than going a few steps out of your way.
Whether you fold that one last basket of wash, make your spouse a cup of tea, place a gentle hand on her shoulder, or make a late night run to the grocery store to get milk, these small (and even medium-sized) favors we do communicate love and affection and say, I’m happy to help.
4. Express appreciation.
No gesture is too small or mundane to warrant a sincere word of thanks. You don’t have to hire a brass band or put up a billboard. A simple thank you is enough to brighten anyone’s day.
Feeling creative? Leave a love note on her windshield. Say nice things about him to others — and make sure he overhears it.
Beyond thanks, acknowledge each other’s patience or kindness or willingness to take risks. Sometimes it’s extra sweet to be complimented on who we are, not just what we do.
5. Say yes.
Too often (and too quickly) many of us tend to say No. Whether it’s a request to clean out the garage, take a hike, or make love, why not pause and ask yourself, Why not say, yes?
Not perfect timing? Not your first choice? Unless the answer really has to be no, watch good things happen when you surprise your spouse with a yes.
6. Check in.
At my daughter-in-law’s wedding shower, she asked each of her newly-married friends to give her one piece of advice. More than one of them said take a moment to call. Not just when you’re running late, though especially then! And definitely more often than you would normally do.
Whether it’s a brief phone call or a text message or two minutes of IM, it always feels good to touch base and say, hi.
7. Pucker up.
When was the last time you gave your spouse more than a drive-by kiss as you were dashing out the door? Are we really too busy to stop and do it once more with feeling?
Try a full six-second kiss. Yes, count it out on your fingers. The difference is… well, you’ll see.
While you’re at it, a goodnight kiss with the same enthusiasm is a sweet addition.
What better way to begin and end every day?
Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite ways to let your partner know that you care?
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I love your writing. I got married last year and we do these small things everyday naturally. So happy!!! Each small thing is very simple but big effect. 🙂 Thank you for your writing.
You’re so welcome. Thank you for your kind words. And good for you knowing how to keep your marriage in good shape!
These are just great.
We do 6 of the 7 every day. And it’s now been 6.5 happy years together, plus 3 years with our twins! #7 I would love to do more often, but it’s one of those things I’ve just had to compromise with in this marriage-he’s really not into long kissing except as a sexual thing.
First, six out of seven is wonderful.
As for the kissing, I’d work that one one second at a time. Never hurts to keep something respectfully on the table.
Nice to hear from you.
Lovely post, Winifred! And so true, nothing like a little consideration to warm the heart.
Great ideas! I am up early in the morning and I always set the table for my husband’s breakfast before driving my son to school. The coffee is fresh in the pot and his favorite loaf of brioche on the counter.
That’s my small way to say Good Morning, I am thinking of you.
Of course, since I’ve been doing if for years, when my son will be in college, I might have to think of another morning ritual.
Thanks, Winifred, as always.
Lovely breakfast ritual. Might be hard to give up. Then again, maybe something new would be nice.
Keep me posted… 🙂
My husband loves me so much. I think he is the best hubby in this world. He cares for me a lot. We call each other daily for 5-7 times. On weekends we enjoy movies, parties etc.
Sound like you’ve got a wonderful thing going.
Thanks for adding your voice here.
Hi Winifred M. Reilly
In eastern part of the world most of the couple pose as happy but they actually are not. Adjusting with each other is termed a great virtue here and a spouse especially female one is not considered good if she deserts her husband. So with these hypocrite values couples have to survive in such societies.
But the tips you mentioned here will bring great results even for forcibly happy couples. 🙂
What an interesting perspective to add. There are plenty of unhappy couples here too, going through the motions. I write these posts to do what I can to help people find ways to have as good a marriage as possible.
Thank you so much for coming by and commenting.