Want to do a little something to boost your relationship this week? Here are three easy, evidence-based approaches:
1. Thank your partner for doing their job.
Spend a few minutes thinking about one job or chore your partner does frequently — a job you expect your partner to do, something that would make you irritated if they didn’t do it since it’s clearly their job. It could be their actual job, or scheduling all of the kids’ doctors appointments, or taking the dog on a walk, or doing the laundry. When is the last time you thanked them for doing that job or chore? It might feel weird to say thanks for doing something you expect them to do, but a thank-you always feels good, and feeling appreciated for doing chores, even ones expected of you, makes them (and your relationship) more satisfying. So take 30 seconds to say, “Hey honey, you might not know it, but I see that it’s always you who takes the dog for a walk. I really appreciate it, and I know Barky appreciates it too.” Or even a simple, “Thanks for doing the dishes every night — I know you are exhausted at the end of the day.”
2. Listen to your partner talk about something important to them.
One great way to build intimacy and connection in your relationship is simply to really listen when you talk to each other. Why? Just the act of getting listened to makes us feel cared about and understood, but life often gets busy, and as time goes by, we forget to ask our partners how they are doing. When we do think to ask, we expect a quick answer and have already mentally moved on to the next issue on our mind (or our phone) before our partner starts speaking. To combat this, the first step is encouraging your partner to share. When you and your partner have a few minutes together to talk, put away your phone and ask your partner an open question: “How are you doing?” “Tell me something good that happened to you this week." "What is bothering you right now?” Make it clear you really want to hear their answer. Then focus all of your attention on listening to them and engaging in their story. Encourage them and ask follow up questions. Use it as a chance to show them how much you care.
3. Play a word game together.
Novel, arousing activities can bring energy to a relationship by helping you have fun and see your partner in a new light. No time to start rock climbing? A quick word game could bring you some of the same benefits. Over dinner one night this week or on a drive, start playing the word association game with your partner. ("When I say "rock," what is the first word that comes to your mind?") You might learn something new about your partner and find it fun to see what words trigger the same associations for both of you. Want more easy games? Try “Would You Rather?” which forces you to pick between two desirable or undesirable options: Would you rather eat soup every day for the rest of your life, or never eat soup again? or 20 Questions.
Want some other quick relationship boosts?
Did you already try telling your partner three things you like about them, or taking a moment to ask yourself three important questions?