Grand romantic gestures often get all the credit, but it’s usually the minor, daily ways in which we express love and connect with each other that set the tone for a healthy and happy relationship. Even the best relationships can still find new ways to connect. All relationships take work, but to quote the movie One Day (you know you love it), “Affection is when you see someone’s strengths; love is when you accept someone’s flaws.” Here are 10 things you can do to improve your relationship, today.
1. Make them a cup of coffee.
Small acts of kindness can mean all the difference in a relationship where people, especially in long term relationships, can feel unappreciated or unattended to. Small acts that show you going out of your way to do something nice for your partner will make them feel cared for and thought of. Try making them a cup of coffee in the morning before they get out of bed. It will set the tone for the rest of the day of being thoughtful to one another.
2. Say “thank you”
Especially in relationships that have gone on for years and fall into routines, we get so comfortable in our relationships that we expect our partner to meet all of our needs, whether it’s in how they treat us or the daily chores they do. Saying a simple “thank you” for cleaning the dishes after dinner or giving you a compliment enforces their good behavior and makes them feel appreciated, as well as making you remember why you love them. It’s also important to express appreciation and gratitude for them being in your life and how much they mean to your life, not just what they do for you.
3. Work out together
I know, I know: your hot yoga flow or spin class is typically your escape from all of the people in your life. But try heading over to your partner’s gym with them or bringing them along to your barre class. Activities that get your heart rate up release endorphins, which are like feel-good chemicals in your brain, making you both feel happy, energized, and excited. It’s also a new way to bond!
4. Give them a hug
It may seem like the most basic and simplest of acts, but physical touch goes a long way in keeping romance and connection alive in long term relationships. Try to avoid physical touch routines, meaning the only physical touch in your daily life is a kiss goodbye or a hug hello (though these are also important gestures). In addition to your hellos and goodbyes, hug them unexpectedly, hold their hand in the car or while watching TV, or even just pat them on the arm to feel close. Physical closeness can translate to emotional closeness.
5. Send them an unexpected text message
If you are apart from morning until dinnertime, sending a text in the middle of the day that feels a little out of the blue will surprise your partner and make them feel some of the excitement that comes from a new relationship. Try sending them a message to tell them something you love about them, something you’re thankful for, or a romantic/funny memory you share.
6. …But put away your phone!
Try to have at least some quality time together every day where you put away your phones — trust me, Instagrams and emails can wait for you to be done with dinner. While this may feel like a hard goal in our busy lives, it is an extremely important aspect of a happy relationship. Many studies have found a direct correlation with heavy-phone-usage and relationship wellness. And if you’re angry, try to limit texting. It might be easier for you to resort to texting when you’re angry about something, but try to always talk through issues in person, or at least over a phone call. Texting fights only create distance.
7. Go to bed at the same time
While this may seem like an impossible feat for the couples whose schedules or preferences require different sleeping time, bedtime is a crucial time for a relationship. It’s a way of reconnecting from a busy day, a moment of quietness, and alone time before the busyness of the next day. For many couples, it’s the only moment of alone time all day. Even if you’re a night owl and your partner gets to bed by 8pm, at least try to stay in bed until they fall asleep. It’s an important and easy way to reconnect and feel close.
8. Schedule a check-in
Scheduling might not seem very sexy and spontaneous, but making sure you’re regularly checking in with each other will keep your relationship strong. It can be easy to let annoyance after annoyance build up until it gets to a full-blown fight, so checking in means fewer fights, more communication, and better connection. After all, a relationship is just two people trying to get their needs met. Use a check-in to discuss any recent triggers, problems, and even all the good things (which deserve recognition too!). Try monthly, weekly, or even daily (like at the end of the day), and put it on your calendars so you don’t forget or skip.
9. Laugh together
Relationships are just friendships with exclusivity; while loving each other is crucial, liking each other is important too. While the life-partner stuff (like dividing chores) or the romantic stuff (like holding hands) might be top priorities to improve your relationship, remember that the friendship stuff is just as important. Laugh together at least once every day, whether it’s sharing a funny story that happened to you at the grocery store, bringing up an inside joke, or watching the show that makes you both LOL. Laughing not only bonds us, but helps us remember that the point of being in a relationship is to enjoy the person we love.
10. Make time for yourself
While me-time might sound counterintuitive when the goal is we-time, how you feel about yourself is how you’ll act in a relationship. If you depend on your partner for fulfillment, you’ll expect too much from the relationship, and if you don’t love yourself, you’re probably worried your partner doesn’t truly love you either. Spending time alone not only ensures you’re living the most fulfilling life possible, whether that means indulging in self-care or pursuing your own interests, but it also means you’ll be able to show up as your best, truest self when you spend time together. And just as an added bonus, there’s nothing more attractive than confidence.