Small Things Do Count
Closer Every Day
The deed shapes the heart. Doing kind things for each other will bring the two of you closer together.
To continue our example, Lily and Tim realized that they missed the closeness they felt when circumstances were more challenging. They came to us to help them figure out how to feel closer to each other all the time. We pointed out that they had a tendency to take each other for granted when their lives were going well. We showed them how their actions affected the relationship. They didn't regularly do things for one another that showed they cared for each other. Deep down, they didn't doubt that the other person really loved them. We helped them understand that they needed to take the time and effort to show the other how important they were to each other.
We suggested they make sure to do one nice thing for each other every day. After a few weeks, their marriage began to feel like a courtship all over again. One day Tim would buy Lily flowers and another he would cook her dinner. Lily surprised Tim at work, and they had lunch together. Many of the things they do for each other now are things they had done when Lily had broken her leg and Tim had a big project at work. But by doing them during the good times, they have a much happier and more satisfying relationship than ever before.
Marriage Q & A's
Q: My spouse is on the road a lot, and we don't get a chance to see each other every day. What can we do to stay close?
A: Make sure you talk each day and discuss what you did and how you felt about it.
Some days you might feel closer to your spouse than on other days. Sometimes you are dealing with a stressful major life event such as a move or a death in the family. Your marriage is a constant in the midst of your changing life.
Especially during rough times, it is easy to put your marriage on the back burner, but it really doesn't take much effort to bring it to the front burner for a brief time each day. Even if you had a bad day, try to remember to acknowledge the importance of your relationship. Try to say something kind to your partner before you go to sleep, such as:
- “It really helps knowing that you're there for me.”
- “You are very important to me.”
- “I can't wait to see you at the end of a tough day.”
- “You make me laugh.”
Don't let a day go by without showing your partner appreciation. It can take as little as 30 seconds, but it goes a long way to strengthen the bonds of your relationship.
And, of course, the old standby:
- “I love you.”
It's easy to feel that there will be time in the future to show your appreciation, but we all know stories in which understanding and appreciation of someone came too late. Tell your significant other how much he or she means to you—often. If your spouse feels precious and important to you, it is less likely he or she will take you for granted. He or she will almost certainly treat you better.
Also, you might feel that if you show your spouse appreciation for something, such as taking out the garbage, your spouse will then think that he or she doesn't have to help with the dishes. This may be true in the short run. But the more appreciation you show your spouse for the mundane things, the better he or she will feel about doing things for you. Over time, he or she will come to depend on your kind words to feel good, and that is a beautiful gift for both of you. Appreciation goes a long way toward making a house into a home.
More on: Marriage and Divorce
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage © 2001 by Hilary Rich and Helaina Laks Kravitz, M.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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