Gratitude – it can shift so much! When you switch from looking at ‘what’s wrong’ to really appreciating and seeing ‘what’s right,’ your entire relationship can transform. When you’re in relationship, there’s a lot to be grateful for: you have someone who supports you, cares about you, wants you to be happy (and wants to make you happy, too!), and someone who stands by your side through every up and down, no matter how challenging they may be. Sometimes, though, when we fall into the regular routine of day-to-day life, it’s easy to forget the little things about our partners – maybe it’s those things we fell in love with from the start, or maybe it’s the small things that we start to take for granted.
Whatever the reason, you can reignite that passion in your relationship with a wondrous and transformative feeling: appreciation. Appreciate the small things and your relationship will lift—from challenge to happiness; from mundane to magnetic presence; from annoyance or frustration over little things to those feelings you had when you first met: gratitude, happiness, and love.
Here are five little things to appreciate that can make a big difference:
Your Quality Time Together
For many couples, getting time together can get challenging with many life items on the go. If you’ve got kids, a lot of time is committed to caring for them; even if you don’t have kids, life can fill up pretty quickly! It’s important that the time you get with your partner is quality time. Carve it out, and appreciate those precious moments. They’re important.
You may text back and forth while you’re at work, or strike up a conversation at home while cooking dinner, then sit down to unwind for the night. This is a great way to get that emotional connection, but sometimes we can get stuck in a rut and not appreciate those small moments of together time. To reignite that appreciation, start planning activities you both enjoy. Go for walks to the park, plan a board game night, have a late night coffee date (if it won’t keep you up all night—or enjoy a green smoothie date instead). Creating together time means you’re getting to spend time one-on-one, which is where you can really connect. For every moment you have, be grateful; with that gratitude, watch your relationship grow.
The Little Things—Small Gestures Go a Long Way!
You know your partner loves you, and they know you love them. Sometimes though we can forget to show our partner that love, or appreciate it when our partner shows us love, too! The more you appreciate what your partner says and does for you, the more likely they are to continue. People like to be appreciated, especially when they are doing little things that add up to a whole lot of love.
In The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman outlines how each of us has a love language (or multiple ones) that really resonate with them. Discover your partner’s love language, and understand theirs. Then you can add in some small gestures to your routine that make a huge difference. Pick a flower when you walk around the park and bring it home to your significant other, text an “I love you” or compliment them while they are at work to boost their mood. If you’re feeling really loving, you may even volunteer to do all the house work so your partner can have a day off. Appreciating the little things—and doing those small gestures that can be appreciated—will go a long way!
True Presence—Ditch the Phone
It’s 2015 and phones are a huge part of our lives. They help us keep up to date with news, friends and family, and provide everything from social media connection to general entertainment. When you’re together though, and in order to really treasure that time together, you want to be present—and it’s tough to do this if you’re tap-tap-tapping way, or distracted with reading the latest on your favorite social media feed. A great way to have true presence with your partner is—you guessed it—ditch your phone! When you’re together, focus on all those things you have to appreciate about the person you love; you can leave your phone to check on later.
Tuck it away, put it on vibrate or silent; turn your notifications off, or just plain ignore your phone. Doing so will mean you won’t be ignoring that special someone in front of you—and when you pay attention to him or her, there’s so much to be grateful for. According to the Computers in Human Behavior journal, the 1,160 married couples surveyed showed a negative correlation between heavy phone use and marriage happiness.
Your Downtime—Connect in with Yourself
One of the greatest ways to be grateful is cherishing each and every treasured moment you spend with your partner, no matter how big or small whatever you’re doing may be. That said, it’s also important to enjoy and be grateful for the time we have to ourselves. If your partner is away for the weekend to see their parents, don’t spend the entire time missing them! Instead, rejuvenate, re-tune and re-discover yourself. Chances are you spend a lot of time with your partner, so you can sometimes forget about those things you absolutely adore that make you feel great! Enjoy your downtime with that essential opportunity to remember who you are, and the kinds of things you liked to do (within reason!) while you were single.
Break out the ice cream (or a healthy treat!), put on a sappy movie, sprawl on the bed and just relax. To get better in tune with yourself, try performing yoga or practicing meditation. It may be hard, but try to spend the majority of your time alone thinking for yourself and not about your partner. Really be grateful for that time to nurture and nourish yourself—because it’ll make your relationship that much stronger!
The Sweet, Sweet Truth
One of life’s greatest treasures, and what can build a relationship with a solid foundation, is that age-old value: honesty. It’s time to stop holding grudges, for example, for cancelled plans. Sometimes life gets in the way (your partner has to work overtime or you get sick) so you may have to reschedule a big weekend. Don’t take the bad news as a shot towards you; your partner was comfortable enough to tell you the truth, so they definitely care about you and your feelings. Honesty is the sweetest thing, even if the message being delivered isn’t always the greatest. Appreciate the intention—and the fact that they feel they can trust you.
With cancelled plans, for example, it probably hurts them to cancel the plans as well, but they’re being honest and doing the best they can. Talk about solutions to the bad news (rescheduling the date, or selling tickets to the show you were going to attend). Fighting won’t solve something that nobody has control over, so remain positive and everything will work out. Your appreciation will open more honesty in your relationship—which is the most solid foundation for everything!
Your gratitude for all these seemingly small things will enhance and nurture that relationship that’s number one in your life. Start remembering just how loved you are—pay attention to the small things, and watch them grow! As you and your partner work together to bring more gratitude to your relationship, you’ll fuel that flame of your love!