Appreciating your partner on a daily basis is a great way to protect your long-term relationship from any number of bummers: cooling off, infidelity, breakups, etc. There are no guarantees, of course: that’s just not the way life and love work. But doing your best to be good to the one you love — and to make them feel good, at least once a day — is a pretty good way to bolster long-term fidelity (however you define “fidelity” in your own personal relationship). Because, let’s face it, fidelity could use a little help these days.
Here are five ways to demonstrate your appreciation to your partner — in other words, this is how to remind your partner that you still notice them. Trust us, noticing goes a long way in a relationship.
1) Notice the Little Things
In the division of household labor, perhaps you always load and unload the dishwasher and your partner always does the laundry. Perhaps you mow the lawn and your partner cleans the bathrooms. But just because you have established a fair breakdown of chores that demonstrates the admirable equality in your relationship, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be grateful. So say thank you for these things. You can say, “Thank you for folding my clothes better than a Gap salesperson,” or you can say, “Thank you for always doing more than your share around the house,” or you can say, “Wow! The lawn looks amazing!” You get the idea. Those chores can become, well, a chore over the years, and everyone assumes that their partner doesn’t notice the jobs they do that are solely their responsibility. Make a point to notice this stuff.
2) Notice the Big Things
Sure, you can say, “Thank you for driving the kids to the bus today,” or “Wow, you must be tired after working all those extra hours this week.” But it’s also nice to go bigger picture sometimes, too. Think: “When I fell in love with you, I believed you’d make an amazing mom/dad. But I didn’t know quite how much you’d rock this role.” Or, “I know you’d rather be writing a screenplay/trying out for a reality TV show/doing CrossFit full-time, but I really appreciate you working for a sucky boss so we can, you know, eat and stuff.” Or, “You have no idea how it improves my mood each morning when you make that awesome pour-over coffee.” Or, “I don’t know how you attend so many kids’ birthday parties, you must be some kind of saint.”
3) Support Your Partner’s Passions
Speaking of that screenplay or that reality TV show or that CrossFit obsession: make time in your relationship to support your partner’s true passions. Many of us — most of us? — aren’t lucky enough to get paid to do what we really love, so do this for each other, instead. Tell your partner, “Why don’t [fill in the blank: I take the kids/we skip church/you bag your house chores] on Sunday morning, so you can work on your novel/paint/scrapbook/paddle-board/ballroom-dance.” Giving your partner time to pursue these beloved hobbies shows that you still care about their happiness and satisfaction, and that you respect their talents and passions.
4) Compliment Your Partner
It’s simple, basic and old-school, but that doesn’t mean that anyone tires of being complimented on their looks, especially when they’re in a long-term relationship and are not getting that regular flirtatious feedback via the pickup scene. Try, “You look so beautiful this morning.” Or, “You’re hotter than when I met you.” Or, “I love the way your ass looks in those jeans.” And yes, this is a gender-neutral recommendation — men need to hear this stuff just as much as the ladies.
5) Date Your Partner
Life is hard, and life keeps you busy, especially when you’re married with kids. But life was hard and busy in its own way back when you were dating, and you still found time to do stuff and plan stuff then. Make a dinner reservation somewhere. Bring, yes, flowers. (It’s not a cliche if you never do it, right?) Dress up a bit when you go out together (that includes the dudes, too). Come up with new ideas/positions/toys to try out in bed. Send sexy texts. Send romantic texts. Read out loud to each other in bed (not necessarily erotica, though that’s cool, too). Discuss culture, politics and your hopes and dreams as well as day-to-day logistics. Make a five-year plan together, and a ten-year plan and a twenty-year plan. And make sure that these plans include big dreams and life goals as well as the practical stuff like saving for kids’ college educations. Most of all, though: ask your partner questions, and really listen to their answers. It’s called conversation. Remember it?
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