In romantic relationships, as in many other things, what counts are the little things. In the same way that a badly spoken word or a strange look can turn a couple into a week-long fight, small, seemingly insignificant gestures can help keep the relationship on track. A small gift, a compliment out of control or a moment of physical contact, can greatly strengthen a relationship.
According to psychologists Nathaniel Branden and Robert Sternberg, who have researched and written about the challenges of romantic relationships, these small demonstrations of interest and affection can be more important than all the games of “active listening” and trust in the world. His research has suggested 10 keys to keep both partners happy, satisfied and happy with each other.
Tell your partner that you love her
Although it is true that actions speak louder than words, words often speak more clearly than actions. Take a moment from time to time to verbalize your feelings towards your partner. A simple “I love you” or “you mean the world to me” can do much to make your partner feel loved, cared for and safe in your relationship.
Show some affection
Small acts of physical intimacy: the hand on the lower back as you walk down the aisle, the arm around the shoulder on the couch, the hand on the thigh when they are sitting side by side, holding hands as they walk through the Street. Offer your partner a warm feeling and transmit the love and affection you feel. The smallest touch may be important, or even more important, than the longest night of intimacy.
Show appreciation for your partner
Tell your partner regularly what he or she likes most: what you admire, what makes you proud, and what your strengths are. Building a romantic relationship is not about the initial union, it is about encouraging and supporting mutual growth throughout their lives.
Show total support
It is obvious what you should do when your partner faces a major challenge in their life, such as the loss of a job or the death of a loved one; but it is just as important to be supportive when your partner also faces the small challenges of life: a discussion at work, a daily commute and a misplaced control. Do not let yourself be a doormat and definitely, do not get down to work for physical or verbal abuse, but do a little tenderness and be the voice of calm and reason when chaos attacks.
Take advantage of the opportunities to give material of your love. Just the right book picked up at the bookstore, a special dessert, a jewel or clothes that you noticed in the store, anything small or big that tells you that he was thinking about him or her.
Respond with grace to the demands and deficiencies of your partner
A great relationship killer are unreasonable expectations. Unless you’ve married a robot, your partner comes preloaded with a whole range of human flaws and weaknesses. Learn to recognize and appreciate the peculiarities of your partner for what they are: an essential part of who they are as people. Because our weaknesses are often at the center of our deepest insecurities, be sure not to choose or otherwise do everything possible to highlight your partner’s failures.
Make “time alone” a priority
No matter how busy your lives are, be sure to commit at least one night a week or two to be alone together. Have new experiences, share your stories and in general, enjoy the company of each one.
Do not take anything for granted
Cultivate a daily sense of gratitude for your partner and the thousands of small blessings he or she has brought into your life. Remember that, if you are happy in your relationship, your partner is doing a thousand small things for you every day to make your relationship work. Never take that for granted: a relationship is a work of the highest order, and in the second that stops it begins to slide.
Fight for equality
Make sure you follow the golden rule in your relationship: treat your partner as you would have done with yourself. Fight for a fair division of housework and other tasks, and do not expect or demand special considerations that you would not be willing to offer in return.