Every now and then it is good to take stock of our relationships to see what could be improved or worked on. Even if you do not feel that anything is “wrong,” there are still things you can do to make things even better and prevent anything from ever going “wrong.”
It is easy to make one, big gesture with your partner, such as sending roses or even a weekend getaway. These things are fun to do if you can, and they can create beautiful memories. But it is really the small, daily things that have the biggest impact over the long-term, as it is the smaller things that can become regular habits and continuously feed and nurture our relationships.
Here are 3 small things you can do to make a big difference in your relationship:
1) Better Than Others
— Treat your partner better than anyone else. It is very easy to put our worst foot forward when we are at home, because it is where we are typically the most comfortable. However, our partner deserves better than that. If we can be polite to strangers, or people we do not even necessarily like at work, then we can — at the very least — be polite to our partner. When we arrive home for the day, we can say hello and take a few minutes to ask about their day. We should make our partner feel that they are the most important person in our life – every day.
2) Couple Time
— Schedule one-on-one time with your partner on a regular basis – and stick to it. It is important to have time to spend as a couple and reconnect. This may seem daunting when life can seem so busy, especially when you have kids, and will be the easiest thing to cancel, but don’t. This does not have to be a big date night, where you get all dressed up and go to a fancy dinner or take hours to go to a movie. While dates are important, it is also important to just have time together, and make it a habit. Go get a coffee, or go grocery shopping together on the weekends, or take a 20-minute walk after dinner a few nights a week.
3) Really Listen
— Actively listen when your partner is talking to you; be it a serious issue or just about something funny in the day. This means doing more than just putting down the phone or turning off the TV. It means giving your full attention to your partner while they are speaking. Because we may know our partner so well, it can be very easy to jump in with a solution, a criticism, make a comment – or worse, interrupt them, and change the subject because we have tuned them out completely. Not only is this rude, but it also demonstrates to our partner that we do not value them enough to even listen or care about what they are talking about. When they have finished speaking, offer words of encouragement, or a suggestion if they ask for it, but just indicating that you have really listened and heard them makes a really big difference.
It can sometimes be hard to determine what needs working on in a relationship, especially if we feel like our relationship is just fine. So start with these three areas, and whether you already do them or not, work on doing them a little bit better. Just taking these small steps shows our partner how important they are and can really boost our relationships to a new level.
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Author: Dr. Kurt Smith
Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching, a Northern California counseling practice that specializes in helping men and the women who love them. His expertise is in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges couples face today. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, everything outdoors, and helping those seeking to make their relationships better.