You love your significant other. But life gets busy, and sometimes maybe you forget to express your love. Or the ways you show love are now so familiar that they might not have as much impact as they used to.
But your partner needs to know that he or she matters. Even if your relationship is strong overall, you’ll make it stronger by demonstrating your love in a variety of forms. Words, actions, and touch all convey how much you care about your honey. And there are many ways you might do that:
Tell your partner you appreciate him/her, in specific ways. It’s particularly helpful to comment on any of the good things you usually take for granted. Is your partner a good provider? a terrific parent? handy around the house? calm when you’re not? responsible with money? a great listener? kind to the in-laws and elderly neighbors? Anything that makes you proud to be with him/her is worth commenting on.
Be playful. Partnered life shouldn’t be only about responsibilities. Dance in the kitchen; start a tickle fight; play Twister–anything that makes the two of you laugh or smile together.
Make that doctor appointment your partner’s been bugging you about. He/she cares about your health; show that you do, too.
Turn off your devices when you’re together (at least some of the time). Leave the phone and the computer in another room and just be together—even while you’re watching TV, and certainly while you’re eating together. Device-free time is so rare these days that it really makes a statement about how much you value your relationship.
Make coffee in the morning (or whatever will start your partner’s day off right).
Go to bed at the same time. Often, couples settle into a routine of going to bed at different times. This may be practical, but it means you lose the snuggly connectedness of relaxing together at the end of the day. Try to find a compromise bedtime, at least a few nights a week.
Learn together. Take an adult-ed class in something that interests your partner–woodworking, French cooking, photography, or whatever. The subject matters less than spending time together engaged in something new.
Give a welcome-home surprise like flowers and a note on the table or a favorite snack laid out in an appealing way.
Initiate sex (if you’re the one who usually doesn’t). Everyone wants to feel wanted.
Cuddle without initiating sex (if you usually initiate). Your partner wants to feel valued as person, not just as a sex object.
Notice the small things your partner does every day that are helpful to you or the running of your household. Say thank you.
Give your partner space when he/she needs it. If you’re not sure whether space is needed, just ask—making it clear that you’re fine with that and won’t take the answer personally.
Find a TV show that your partner loves and that you’re okay with and watch episodes together.
Send cheerful texts during the day. Tell your SO the joke you just heard, describe the sunset, or say “I love you.” You don’t want to send so many it gets annoying, and don’t expect a response. Just let your partner know you’re thinking about him/her.
Give the benefit of the doubt. If you tend to assume that your partner does annoying things on purpose, or if there’s more than one way to interpret a comment, opt for assuming that your SO means well. He/she probably does mean well, plus your less-prickly attitude can create a positive spiral.
Touch. We’re mammals; we’re hardwired to thrive on touch. Unless your partner specifically objects, figure that he/she will like to be cuddled. Put a hand on her shoulder as you walk by; sit next to him on the couch in the evening; spoon in bed.
Tell your partner about the things that first attracted you to him/her. His eyes? Her laugh? His sense of humor? The kindness she showed to a stranger?
Write a love song or poem. Even if it’s not “good,” it’ll be meaningful.
Tackle that household project or repair your partner’s been wanting to get done. You’ll show that you heard what he/she wants and are willing to make it a priority.
Apologize. When something has gone wrong, even a small thing like forgetting to buy milk, don’t just shrug it off. A sincere apology makes your partner feel seen and valued; it shows that you can understand his/her perspective as well as your own.
Cook a meal your partner loves (even if you don’t particularly like it).
Give a back rub. Or a shoulder rub. Or a foot rub.
Be as open as possible about your partner’s sexual fantasies. If your SO asks to try something different in bed, do your best to listen with an open heart. If what’s being asked is more than you can manage, is there some aspect of it you might be willing to incorporate into your lovemaking (in reality or in fantasy)? At a minimum, listen with love and don’t put your SO down for asking. It’s vulnerable to make that kind of request, so hear it with kindness.
Send a card for no reason. So few good things come in the mail; a loving or funny card or note is a delightful surprise.
Take the initiative to reach out after a fight. Offer a hug, maybe, or a smile. Or make a small gesture your partner would like (maybe one of the things on this list). Even if you’re still mad, you can say something like “I’m still upset about this, but I love you and want to try to make things better between us.”
Learn to accept an annoying habit. If you’ve told your partner that a certain thing bugs you and it keeps happening, try to accept that it’s just part of the package of loving this person. This doesn’t apply to big things like addiction or abuse, of course. But many smaller things aren’t worth the energy to stay upset about. If you possibly can, try to look at the habit as endearing quirk.
Take your partner’s car to the car wash and vacuum it.
Sit next to your partner on the couch. Couples often find themselves sitting on opposite sides of the room in the evening, or even in different rooms. Cozy up and enjoy each other’s company. You’ll feel much more connected.
Give your partner a day to enjoy a pastime without complaint. Let him spend a Sunday watching sports or working in the shop without any grumbling from you. Let her hang out with girlfriends or spend the day in the garden while you get the household stuff done. If the activity is important to your partner, a chance to spend time on it is a real gift.
Do the laundry, or any other task that your partner usually does.
Plan a romantic surprise. Choose music, light candles, turn down the sheets, and give your partner your complete attention.
Tuck a love note in your partner’s pocket or purse that he/she can find later in the day.
Give your SO a hug while he/she is doing the dishes. Affectionate touch adds connection to the mundane tasks of life.
Give a kiss and hug every morning before you leave. It only takes a moment, but it starts the day off with love.
Welcome each other home in the evening. If you’re home first, pause what you’re doing when your honey shows up, make eye contact, and give a kiss or hug. If you’re home second, find your spouse and reach out. There may be plenty of distractions at the end of a busy day, but your partner is more important.
Marcia Whitney says
Thank you, Jill, for these helpful and specific suggestions. I’m glad that I already do many of these with my sweetie, and got some additional ideas, too!