Too often couples forget about the importance of the little things. We can get so wrapped up in our lives that we think things are okay as long as we’re not fighting. Although I wish this were true—it’s not. Great relationships require a lot of positives, not just the absence of negatives.
Relationship guru John Gottman talks about the importance of couples having positive relationship reserves to draw from when things are tough. Building relational reserves is like having a relationship savings account that both partners make deposits into daily. Think of this relationship account like an emergency fund. The way couples build up these reserves is by doing loving, cherishing acts. Think of each compliment, hug, supportive word etc., as a deposit. The more loving the act is that we do, the greater the deposit is that we make. When we later hit a bump in the road, we can then draw from these reserves and remember that there are good things about the relationship as well.
When things aren’t going well, we need to know that there’s a good chance they will get better and we’ll survive the struggle. If most, if not all, of our interactions are neutral or negative interactions, then there’s no reason to think things will be okay. We will have no reserves to draw from to remind us that this is just a moment in time. We have to build our relationship reserves.
Below are 25 ways to build up your relationship reserves by adding tender sprinkles to your relationships.
1. Greet your partner when you come home by saying hello and asking them how their day was.
2. Say goodbye when you leave with a hug or kiss.
3. Give a compliment whenever possible.
4. Listen to their stories like you care.
5. Share your stories.
6. Notice the ways they help and thank them directly.
7. Help with chores that you don’t usually help with.
8. Smile at your partner like you’re happy to see them.
9. Call them before a tough meeting/even and let them know you’re thinking about them.
10. Text them a loving message.
11. Hold their hand.
12. Touch their shoulder as you walk by.
13. Randomly tell them you’re glad their in your life.
14. Tell them you love them.
15. Bring home a small gift.
16. Put a little note on their bathroom mirror that says “ You ROCK!”
17. If they handle the children well—tell them so.
18. Laugh with them, not at them.
19. Go out on a date.
20. Surprise them by doing something they like to do but you typically say no to.
21. Give them a shoulder rub without expecting the same in return.
22. Say something nice about them in a group when they’re present.
23. Give them time to themselves without resentment—tell them to go enjoy the day while you watch the kids.
24. Shut off all technology whenever possible and give them your undivided attention.
25. Periodically tell them 3 things you love about them and why.
Making deposits into our relationship back accounts gives our relationships and extra layer of protection. Be mindful of sprinkling a little tenderness daily and watch your relationship strengthen.
CHALLENGE: Commit to building up your relationship reserves by choosing some items form the list above or making up your own and incorporating them into your relationship. If you have other ideas please share! Let us know what happens.