If you don’t already know it by now, let me break it out to you: communication is the key to any healthy relationship. Telling your significant other that you love them, care for them, respect them and support them (and the other way around – having them say it to you) is essential in making things work in the long run.
However, there are other things that can also convey your love and appreciation towards your partner, apart from vocalizing your feelings. Whether you’re complimenting them, kissing them goodnight, helping them with household chores or surprising them with a spontaneous trip, check out 19 ways to be a more thoughtful and proactive partner, as recommended by marriage therapists and relationship experts. Show them you care more, starting today!
Ask them about their day
One way to show you care about your partner’s wellbeing is to check in with them every day. According to Emily Souder, a licensed therapist from Maryland, it’s important for couples to ask themselves how things are going throughout the day, when they are not in each other’s company.
There are various outside factors that could affect a relationship, therefore, taking the time to ask your spouse about their day, can help you connect better and improve your relationship. Speaking of which, check out these 10 Signs You Can Totally Trust Your Partner, no matter the external factors.
Let them know you’re thinking about them
This is somehow similar to the previous tip, and it is equally important. Knowing that your partner is thinking about you, makes everyday tasks seem easier, doesn’t it? Your partner will feel the same. This small but valuable act will let your partner know that they are loved and appreciated and that “you are thinking about them and putting them first in your mind,” says Clinical psychologist Beverly B. Palmer, PhD. A simple, text or short phone call every day, can strengthen your relationship ten times more than an expensive perfume on their birthday.
Pay attention and listen
This is the simplest rule in every relationship. Be empathic, pay attention and listen to what your partner has to say. Really listen. “To be a great partner, the importance of paying attention and noticing when your partner is trying to connect is huge,” says Vanessa Watson-Hill, owner of a therapy practice called Living in the Second Half, in Montclair, New Jersey.
That being said, it’s equally important to watch for non-verbal communication as well. Your partner’s behavior can also tell you a lot of things about their feelings and thoughts. If these go unnoticed, your relationship might be in more trouble than you think.
Look them in the eyes
Visual contact with your spouse on a daily basis can help you maintain the feelings of intimacy, trust, and attraction. Eye contact is a powerful tool for connection, communication and intimacy, all essential elements in having a strong and healthy relationship. So, look at your spouse when they are talking to you, when you’re having dinner or when you’re both lying in bed after a long, tiresome day. Eye contact is crucial, as it can communicate things like “’I’m here,’ ‘I’m listening,’ ‘I’m available,’ and ‘You are important,'” explains Carly Claney, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist from Seattle.
Plan a spontaneous trip
If you notice that your spouse is under a lot of stress, tensed or exhausted, plan something to help them get over the bad state they’re in. Whether it’s a weekend at a nice and cozy B&B or a hiking trip to a beautiful location, it might be just what they need to unwind.
“With all the stress that everyone is facing on a daily basis, traveling should always be a must,” says Simon Hansen, founder of Family Travel Planet. You will both benefit from the outing, by enjoying quality time in each other’s company and feeling better about yourselves and your relationship.
Open the door
Little gestures of kindness and chivalry might not seem that important as the relationship advances, when it fact, it’s quite the opposite. Just because you’ve been together for a long time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still open the door for your wife. Small acts can make your partner feel special and valued, so, why not make them every chance you get?
Make sure you also check out 8 Little Signs That Your Partner Loves You Big Time.
Add food into the equation
It’s not for no reason people say that love goes through the stomach. Food and love really go hand in hand because “food is nurturing and helps people feel connected,” explains therapist Susan Pease Gadoua. If you prepare their favorite food rather than buying something, you’ll score even more points for sure. But in the end, whether you are cooking it yourself or going to great lengths to bring your partner something special for dinner, you are showing them that you love them, and want to give them the best things they deserve.
Enjoy meals together
Another essential tip to connect with your partner and keep a strong, healthy relationship is to eat together whenever you have the opportunity. And by eating, I mean enjoying the food and giving them your undivided attention, without scrolling through your phone.
Depending on your schedules, plan to eat together at least one meal during the day to eat, talk about your day and simply enjoy each other’s company.
You might assume that your partner already knows how you feel and what you think about them. But unless you say it from time to time, your partner won’t know how awesome, loving and perfect you think he/she is. Complimenting and reminding them of how much you adore the way they smile, laugh or even snore (ok, I might have gotten a little carried away with this one), will deepen your connection and solidify your relationship.
Your compliment will not only make your partner feel loved and appreciated but it will also work as a boost in performing their daily tasks and responsibilities.
Say “thank you”
Sometimes, we’re so accustomed to our partners, that we believe they know everything we think or want to say without actually saying it. But even if they know, although it’s not always the case, it doesn’t hurt to say some things out loud. Like saying “thank you” when your partners is cooking for you or is helping you out with household chores.
“Just showing simple appreciation can go a long way,” says Michelle Morton, an entrepreneur, wife, and mother. People take too many things for granted, spouses included. It’s important to make them feel appreciated and recognize their efforts, no matter how big or small.
Say “I’m sorry”
No matter how strong your relationship is, it doesn’t mean you and your partner don’t have your fair share of arguments. The important thing, at the end of the day, is to learn something from your fight- like the importance of saying “I’m sorry”. In a functional relationship, apologizing doesn’t make you weaker; on the contrary, accepting and letting your partner know that you made a mistake makes you stronger. Your partner will appreciate you even more for not having to pull an apology out of you every time are in the wrong, says health and wellness expert Caleb Backe. Same goes for you.
Say “I love you”
Something else you should tell your spouse every chance you get is “I love you.” You might assume it’s enough to feel it, but everyone, including your partner, needs to hear it every once in a while. Every time you say it out loud you are confirming once more than you appreciate and value your partner and your relationship, explains Ili River-Walter, licensed marriage therapist. “While the interpretation and importance of the message is specific to each individual and each marriage, overall, saying ‘I love you’ emphasizes care and commitment.”
If words are not your thing, you might find some useful inspiration here: 10 Ways to Say “I Love You” Without Using Words.
Give them space when needed
A very important thing to make your relationship work, especially a longer one, is to know when to give your partner space and allow them some “them” time. According to relationship expert Susan Winter, if you notice that your partner needs some time n their own, to do their thing, give them that. It doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy spending time with you, but every person needs their own private time, so, show your partner you care and would do anything in your power to make them happy.
Leave them a love note
Telling your spouse what you feel about them is always a good idea. But to make sure it doesn’t lose its significance, try mixing things up every now and then, to keep the flame burning. One way to convey your message but still keep things interesting is to leave love notes. It might sound childish, but a love note is a thoughtful and sincere act that will successfully do the trick.
Do a chore for them
As much as we want it to be, a relationship is not always a 50/50 arrangement. Some days both of you equally do your parts, while other days, one of you has to do 80/20 of the chores. If you notice that your spouse is having one of those days, help them with something on their to-do list. For example, if they usually go grocery shopping, add it to your to-do list for that week.
Taking some of the work off their shoulders will show them that you appreciate what they do and want to help them decompress and relax for a while, says relationship expert Vikki Ziegler.
Give them a back rub
Speaking of ways to help your partner unwind and relax, giving them a back rub can work wonders. If your partner is overworked or tired, this simple but considerate gesture can help you connect with your partner on an intimate level, other than sex but just as strong and important.
A back rub might seem meaningless but it holds a very powerful message: it tells your spouse that you want them to feel better, comfortable, relaxed and that you’ll always be there to help them feel that way, according to Grace Lee, founder of A Good First Date.
Hold their hand
If you think holding hands is for high schoolers, think again. According to Joshua Klapow, a clinical psychologist, holding your partner’s hand is a gesture of intimacy and connection of great importance to your partner and your relationship. It’s the first line of physical but also emotional intimacy and can make your partner feel happy, loved, cared for, and respected.
Check out 10 Surprising Signs Your Partner is a Keeper.
Kiss them hello/goodnight
Long-term couples who’ve managed to keep their relationships healthy and functional know the importance of making your partner feel loved and cared for. Simple gestures, no matter how small they might seem, can help you go a long way. A good rule of thumb, when it comes to marriages, is to always kiss your spouse hello and goodnight. It shows that you put your relationship first and all the rest after.
Sharing something as simple as a good morning or goodnight kiss with your partner can help you connect with them at the start or after a long, hard day, even for just a short moment.
Don’t keep score
When you don’t feel comfortable in a relationship, you might tend to start keeping a record of what you and your partner are doing for the relationship to work. You start focusing on the things your partner should do but leaves them up to you and begin to feel mistreated and bitter. In a healthy and functional relationship, you are more generous and understanding and don’t focus on keeping tabs on your partner.
You have no problem offering more than your partner, as a way to show them you care and love them, says couples therapist Kari Carroll. You know that your spouse will do the same for you, so it’s a win-win in the long term.