Big gestures are great. (No one would turn down a surprise weekend getaway, are we right?) But if we're honest, it's really the little, everyday things that count — especially when it comes to marriage.
"The little everyday things you do for your partner lets them know that you are thinking about them and the relationship," explains Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of Blueprint For A Lasting Marriage. And they also make your marriage stronger. Ready to dive in? Our experts recommend making these five things part of your daily routine with your partner.
1. Enjoy leaving and returning rituals.
There are at least two times when it's easy to connect during the day: When you leave one another, and when you come back. Setting aside time to say before you buzz out the door "will set a positive tone and help make even a difficult or stressful morning just a little better," says psychotherapist and marriage coach Toni Coleman. A welcome when you return home works the same way. "Walking into a house at the end of the day and not being acknowledged can contribute to the belief that the other person is not happy to see you, doesn't really care whether you are there or not, or that you are not a priority," she says. "Making time says just the opposite."
2. Share your day.
It may be the same-old, same-old for you, but even so, "it's important to know what is happening in each other's lives when you are apart," says Doares. So to strengthen your relationship, ask about your partner's day and share the details of your own. "Don't make this perfunctory," Doares warns, "and be present when your partner is sharing. If you can make this conversation last more than a few minutes, you'll get past the superficial and into what the events really mean to each other. It is in these moments that you are building intimacy."
3. Go to bed at the same time.
You may be a night owl while your partner is a morning person. But if you can fight your nocturnal instincts, you can draw yourselves closer together, Doares says. "It's much easier to be physically intimate if you're in the same place at the same time," she explains. "Even if one of you isn't ready to sleep, you can spend this quiet time together and get back up after your partner does fall asleep. Doing this regularly means that you will create the opportunity for intimacy when the mood strikes."
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4. Check in with one another.
"It is too easy to get caught up in work and other responsibilities and put your relationship on hold until you have more time," Coleman laments. But checking in with one another during the day is as simple as sending a short text. "Taking a few minutes to check in sends the message that you are thinking of them and looking forward to when you see one another later," she says. "It's a gesture of intimacy, and a great hedge against any temptation to engage in emotional or physical infidelity."
5. Say "I love you" in your partner's love language.
You may respond to acts of service — think: your husband taking out the trash is the sexiest thing he can possibly do — but your partner may need to hear words of affirmation to feel loved. If you can figure out how your spouse sees your love most clearly, you can strengthen your relationship. "Daily affirmations of love help keep that love alive and vibrant," says Doares. "Those declarations are most meaningful if they are expressed in the way your partner really experiences love."