In most long-term relationships, it is inevitable that one or both partners may occasionally experience feelings of being taken for granted. Although not done with the intention of causing hurt or anger, people can sometimes let the pressures of work, family and daily life take priority over expressing appreciation and gratitude for their other half.
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If you can identify with neglecting your partner in an emotional capacity, yet are uncomfortable making bold gestures, the good news is that there are very simple ways in which you can organically bring affection, thanks and love into your relationship. Take the initiative to do these ten things on a steady basis, if you are not already, and watch as your connection to your partner strengthens.
1. Express Pride In Your Partner To Friends And Family
While letting your partner know that you are proud of certain achievements is great for bolstering your relationship when talking one-to-one, sharing your feelings with people with whom your partner is close, such as friends and family members, has an even stronger positive impact. When you express admiration for your partner’s job promotion, parenting skills or charitable endeavors to trusted loved ones, it conveys that not only is your relationship a priority in your life, but also that you pay attention to your partner’s successes and value their self-esteem.
2. Thank Your Partner For His Or Her Contributions
The power of two small words – “thank you” – can do wonders for helping your partner to feel loved, appreciated and secure in your relationship. You need not wait to thank your partner for a direct favor; rather, saying these words in a spontaneous, everyday atmosphere demonstrates that you are always grateful for what your partner brings to the table. Express sentiments such as “thank you for listening to me,” “thank you for bringing me joy,” and “thank you for just being you.”
3. Initiate Small, Yet Meaningful, Gestures Of Affection
Squeeze your partner’s hand lovingly, laugh at a joke that they shared and ask for your partner’s opinion on a decision you need to make. All of these are gestures that may seem small in the broader context of your relationship, but you might be surprised at the degree to which these tiny tokens of affection are highly meaningful. Everyone wants to feel loved, needed and wanted, so take just a few minutes each day to offer your partner that small boost of confidence.
4. Sacrifice Free Time On Occasion To Be With Your Partner
Spending time alone or with individual friends on occasion is important in maintaining a healthy relationship, but if you find yourself prioritizing your free time over being with your partner too frequently, feelings of resentment and neglect can arise. Let your partner know that they are special by choosing to spend downtime together rather than apart. Every so often, forgo opportunities to attend a friend’s gathering or play video games alone in favor of dedicating your attention and time toward your partner.
5. Make A True Effort To Listen When Your Partner Talks
In relationships where one or both partners express disappointment about not truly being “heard” in a conversation, the communication breakdown often occurs because the partner on the listening end is either not fully focusing on the other’s words or is just waiting for the opportunity to speak. Work on being completely present and listening actively the next time your partner shares their thoughts with you. Acknowledge and validate what your partner said when it is your turn to share, and offer your own perspective.
6. Take Time To Learn Your Partner’s “Love Language”
Relationship counselor, Dr. Gary Chapman authored a book on the “five love languages,” or ways in which people behave in order to show their partners affection. When learning about these languages, which are “receiving gifts,” “acts of service,” “physical touch,” “quality time” and “words of affirmation,” you can get a sense of which language you tend to use and which one your partner demonstrates. Accept that your love languages may be different, and appreciate the one that your partner engages in to express themselves.
7. Be the First to Make Amends for Your Part in a Conflict
Disagreements with your partner, some of which elevate to heated arguments, are bound to occur at some point in your relationship. Resolving these conflicts can be difficult when neither party is willing to accept part of the blame and apologize for any hurtful words or actions. Set your pride aside when you are seeking to make amends with your partner, and be the first to say that you are sorry for your role in the argument. Your partner can then feel safe to initiate apologies in the future.
8. Support Your Partner In The Pursuit Of Life Dreams
If your partner has a dream or passion that means a great deal to achieve, such as going back to school, working toward a new career position or starting a side business focused on a hobby, show your utmost faith in their abilities by offering support at every stage of the process. Avoid criticizing your partner’s goals, voicing doubts about your partner’s capability to learn and grow, being resentful or acting threatened by the possibilities of this new chapter in their life. Your partner will need your support more than ever.
9. Offer Your Partner Compliments “Just Because”
While your partner may expect to receive compliments when dressed for a fancy event or preparing a holiday feast, they are likely to view compliments that you give for no special occasion in particular as even more meaningful and heartfelt. Aim to tell your partner how nice they look on a simple everyday outing, or casually compliment individual traits that you particularly enjoy, including their smile, intellect, sense of humor or giving spirit. These unexpected gestures are often very much appreciated.
10. Stop Dwelling On Your Partner’s Minor Quirks Or Bad Habits
As humans, we all have tiny quirks, rituals or habits that can be annoying to a partner at times. These behaviors are not done with the intention of causing deliberate tension, so try to let your frustration go the next time your partner sings off-key in the car, fidgets, paces, talks to themselves or does anything else that is slightly agitating but merely a personal quirk. Realize that you also have little habits that surely get on your partner’s last nerve from time to time.
For a more intensive guide to improving communication and openly showing gratitude and appreciation in your relationship, consider going on a couple’s retreat led by experts in this field. Not only can you learn tools that build on simple expressions of affection, but you can also gain insight in regard to both personal and inter-personal growth.