Sometimes you meet older couples who've been married for what seems like forever, and you marvel at their accomplishment. Thirty years? Incredible.
It might seem like having a successful partnership is a mammoth undertaking, but when you look closely, even the longest, happiest relationship is just made up of a series of little things.
Every relationship has a “reservoir” of good feelings, and the couple that frequently fill up with the little things is going to be more resilient in times of crisis. Here are some things you can do today to reinforce your connection.
1. Give the other person your full attention.
Don’t disrespect your partner by being distracted on your phone when you’re together, or by nodding your head and muttering “uh huh” when you’re really miles away, thinking of something else. To have a solid relationship, you need to show up.
2. Make regular, loving touch a priority.
People disagree over the role a happy sex life plays, but there’s no debate about the importance of regular, loving touch. Hug your partner, hold his hand or rub her feet, it doesn’t really matter. When you connect physically, you’re affirming your bond in a powerful, primal way.
3. Mind your manners.
After the dating’s done, many couples forget their manners and simply think they don’t need to do little favors for their partner anymore. But favors fill up the reservoir. Make tea, pick up a treat they like or help with a chore they hate doing
4. Regularly express gratitude for your partner.
You may have uttered the most moving vows on your wedding day, but have forgotten for the last six months to tell your partner that yes, you are still happy and grateful to have her in your life. Choose to be with your partner every day. Say thank you.
5. Check in with each other just because.
Busy couples can fall into a trap of communicating only when the kids need to go to the doctor, the credit card needs paying or someone needs to buy dinner. Happy couples call or text just because. Let your partner know you care enough to just check in once in a while.
No matter how long you’ve been together, your partner will probably love being reminded about why you find him or her so attractive in the first place. Happy couples don’t stop courting one another just because they’re committed and settled. Notice new haircuts, compliment their clothes or just send a cheeky smile their way.
7. Work on something together.
A successful couple knows how to work as a team. Whether it’s putting a meal together or sharing an obscure hobby, a happy couple understands that an activity they work at together can only strengthen their bond.
8. Have fun.
Be goofy. Play pranks on one another. Invent your own silly language. Life is hard and keeping a relationship robust and healthy takes work - but don’t take it all too seriously. The most resilient people — and couples — are those that can shrug their shoulders and laugh at life in general.
Little resentments have a way of growing up to be big, unwieldy resentments. Just let it go. Smart couples pick their battles, and more often than not, they write off small transgressions if they threaten the bigger picture.
10. Support your partner's hopes and dreams.
A partner who doesn’t care about your dreams and goals is doing you a disservice. Happy couples care about the hopes and plans of their partners, they ask questions and listen, they cheer each other on and are there when times are tough.
A good relationship isn’t just something you fall into. Even though you may have great chemistry and the best intentions, a strong bond is one where both partners take the time to nurture each other each and every day. Love is something you do deliberately and continuously.
Clinton Power is the founder of Australia Counselling, a free directory for finding counselors and psychologists in Australia. He is a Gestalt therapist, relationship counselor, singles coach and the owner of Clinton Power + Associates, a private practice dedicated to helping singles and couples move out of relationship pain. Clinton’s book 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship has been downloaded over 3,000 times and is available for Kindle on Amazon. Follow Clinton on Twitter or Facebook.