You don’t need fancy vacations or public declarations of adoration to make your relationship rock solid.
“It’s not the big things that make a marriage great, but rather the random acts of kindness that follow the golden rule of relationships: Do unto your partner as your partner would like you to do,” says John Van Epp, Ph.D., therapist, author of How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk, and founder and president of Love Thinks.
“Become a connoisseur of your partner. Learn what words, acts, expressions, gifts, and touches are the most meaningful and desired,” recommends Van Epp.
In other words, show your appreciation and love to your partner in the ways that mean the most to them.
“When you get out of your world and into your partner’s, then your little acts of kindness become momentous,” says Van Epp, and help your partner feel known, valued, and loved.
Read on for 22 small but meaningful ways to show your appreciation.
“Every month I send my girlfriend flowers or deliver them myself. I also handwrite love letters and mail them to her at work.” –Mona
GIVE AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE
“Simultaneously rubbing each other’s feet is a small way my boyfriend and I show our appreciation for one another.” –Nancy
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WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER “One thing that has really changed our relationship and how much more I respect my husband was his decision to join me in the fertility crusade. He comes to acupuncture with me weekly and has flipped his eating habits and supplement taking upside down, and is now taking so much better care of himself. It made me feel appreciated and acknowledged in ways he’ll never know.” –Julie TAKE NOTE “My husband leaves me little love notes, sometimes in my suitcase when I go away or in my lunch bag. Now he adds the kids’ artwork, too. It’s the sweet little gestures that capture my heart and remind me how good I have it.” –Jenn SHARED WISDOM “There is a saying: Men have sight; women have insight. Listening to my wife’s insight guides me away from seeing the world as a defined black and white place.” –Howard PITCHING IN
“We both have household tasks we take care of — I do most of the cleaning and my husband does all the laundry — but what really bowls me over with gratitude is when he steps in when I’m too tired or overwhelmed.” –Kayrene
A WARM WELCOME
“My husband and I make it a point to drop whatever we’re doing when the other person walks through the door at the end of the day to greet them, give them a kiss and hug and connect. Even if it’s just a moment before I turn back to doing the dishes or whatever, I’ve pushed pause to let him know he’s my priority and I’m glad he’s home.” –Chelsea
THE ULTIMATE PICK-UP
“My boyfriend travels more often than I do. When he flies home, I always park and meet him at the gate. It’s a small gesture, but in today’s day and age of ‘convenience’ and fast pace, I like making sure he has a warm, loving welcome.” –Erin
“I make sure the coffee maker is clean every night so he doesn’t have to do it super early in the morning when he wakes up.” –Jessica
START THE DAY OFF RIGHT
“I put her robe and slippers where she’ll be able to find them easily in the morning.” –Mike
SHOWER HIM WITH LOVE
“We like the water temperature in the shower at different levels. Sometimes I notice that after Erin showers she’ll turn the dial to the temperature setting that I like. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of it.” –Brendan
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“My husband plans date nights and surprises me. He organizes the sitter and picks a restaurant he knows I like. Surprising and planning is the best gift of all.” –Audra
“He makes me mixed CDs and brings me coffee in the mornings, and I plan really good vacations.” –Jennifer
“I stock his supply of semi-healthy food he keeps at work—nuts, bars, savory snacks, and some sweets.” –Jessica
GOT YOUR BACK
“I know my husband loves back scratches, so I’ll give him those at least once a day. Nothing huge or long or formal, just a few minutes casually so he knows his needs are important to me.” –Chelsea
SAY IT WITH SUPPORT
“My wife is always supportive and proud of me. When I started my business, it was going to be very hard on us financially and emotionally, but she always believed in me/us and supported me/us from day one — and she’s still doing it today. She keeps me motivated and always brings out the best in me.” –Keith
CHEERS TO TOGETHER TIME!
“Cocktail hour! I open the wine; she makes my martini. Even when we are together all day, cocktail hour is special.” –Howard
“I love a good deli sandwich more than anything. So one day my husband gave me a brown bag and I thought it was a deli sandwich. I was knee-deep in cleaning out a closet at the time and I was so excited for the sandwich, but when I opened it up it was a blue bag from Tiffany’s with jewelry inside. That was nine years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.” –Audra
A GOOD TRADE OFF
“His absolute favorite thing in the world is when I rub or scratch his head while we’re watching TV, so I’ll do that whenever I can; he compromises by watching The Bachelor.” –Kayrene
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WASH AND FOLD
“I’m not much for gifts, and my husband is always leaving me Post-It ‘love notes’ all over the house, but what really gets my heart racing is when he does the laundry — washed, dried, folded and put away. It’s like how when someone else makes you a sandwich and it just tastes better; well, when he does laundry, the smell, the folding, the feel, everything seems better.” –Kasey
A TELLING TOKEN
“I came home to a bottle of my favorite kombucha and the soap I love. It wasn’t that it was extravagant or expensive, but it was so me.” –Paula
“I thought if I just didn’t clean the counter or left some dishes in the sink, my husband, who always gets up early, would take care of them. This went on for weeks, and nothing. Then one night I left him a sampling of craft beers with a note — ‘Cheers to the love of my life.’ And guess what: When I woke up that morning the sink and counter was spotless. It felt like Christmas.” –Catie