What Your Lover Really Wants

Examining the desires of men and women, including the merits of one profound long-term romance versus short intense ones.

In Love, Little Things Mean a Lot

It's almost Valentine's Day. Ready for a relationship resolution?

I'm fascinated by the power of little things to jump-start bigger changes. But can this strategy be applied to issues of love and relationships? Yes, absolutely. As the old song says, "Little Things Mean a Lot." And it's February, Valentine's Day month--the perfect time for a relationship resolution.

In honor of Valentine's Day, consider a small action step that will brighten your relationship with a loved one--spouse, child, friend, or any significant other. Even in relationships that have gotten tangled up in knots of resentment, anger, or boredom, sometimes pulling the right little string can magically untangle that knot.

You could choose one of these small steps suggested by couples therapists and sensible people everywhere:

• Take one deep breath instead of interrupting.
• Smile at your family and give a hug when you leave the house and when you come back.
• Turn complaints into requests.
• Say, "I'm sorry," when you've hurt the other person.
• Ask what the other person would like instead of trying to read his or her mind.
• Tell the other person what you would like instead of expecting him or her to read your mind.
• Work toward 5 positive interactions for every negative one.
• Start one sentence per day with the words, "I appreciate the fact that you..."

Even if you're not ready, willing, or able to make a relationship resolution this month, here's a mini-goal that anyone can do right now: Take one minute and twenty seconds of your time to watch this video by Dr. John Gottman, uber couples therapist.

People who've given their resolutions some thought tend to be more successful than those who plunge right into action without a good motivator or a plan. OK, assuming your Change Day is February 14, you've got a week to contemplate this change. What little thing would mean a lot to your relationship?

For more inspiration, listen to this great old tune: 



"Turn complaints into requests." Thanks to Dr. Helen Friedman for introducing me to this helpful phrase.

"5 positive interactions..."  Gottman, J.M. (1994) What Predicts Divorce: The Relationship Between Marital Processes and Marital Outcomes. New York: Lawrence Earlbaum. 

I am the author of Changepower! 37 Secrets to Habit Change Success (Routledge, 2009).  For updates on this blog plus shorter tidbits about habit change and motivation, please "like" me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter.


What Your Lover Really Wants