When the early-love buzz wears off and a couple becomes comfortable, the polite gestures and words that were de rigueur in the beginning fall by the wayside. But it turns out that kindness is the glue that keeps couples together. Follow these four easy rules and you'll both wind up feeling more loved, valued, and appreciated.
Say Good Morning
When the alarm starts blaring, rather than blindly slapping the snooze button or stumbling to the bathroom in a fog, try turning to your guy and saying "Good morning!" Research indicates that 94 percent of couples who do this every day rate their relationships as excellent. In contrast, couples who rarely hear the phrase describe their relationships as below average.
What makes these two words so magical? When you wish your man a good morning, what you're really saying is that it's a good morning because you are together. And affirming your feelings in the a.m. lays the groundwork for positive communication all day.
Acknowledge Expected Acts of Kindness
There are things your guy does for you (rubbing your feet, bringing you a cup of coffee in bed), and there are things he does for the relationship (taking out the garbage, walking the dog). We're pretty good about thanking the men in our lives for the stuff they do explicitly for us, but we tend to drop the ball when it comes to the gestures that benefit them too.
Because these random acts of thoughtfulness improve your life and the relationship as a whole, it's important to acknowledge them. Try adding these two powerful words to the end of your sentence: "Thank you for picking up the milk for us." If you reaped any benefits from his action, you have something to be thankful for.
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Praise Each Other in Public
Guys will rarely ask, "How does my stomach look in this shirt?" so it may not even occur to you that men crave compliments as much as women do. And while certain types of praise should be bestowed only in private (such as the toe-curling sex you had last night), public accolades are especially meaningful because they send the message that you're proud to be with your guy and you want the world to know it.
No need to gush--it will embarrass him. Just stick to sincere compliments that are specific to him and appeal to his masculinity. Saying something like "It's amazing that you were able to fix my laptop and drive your mother to the airport before work this morning" will make him feel appreciated and loved.
Don't Cut Him Off
Conventional wisdom was upset when research published in the journal Science found that guys are, by nature, just as chatty as women are. If the man in your life isn't much of a talker, it may be because he can't get a word in edgewise.
A major reason men clam up is because they're with a partner who constantly interrupts them. It often happens when you think you already know what he's going to say or you jump to answer his first point before he's had the chance to finish his sentence. Other times, you may do it because you think he's dead wrong. But know this: If one partner is silent, it's usually because they're withdrawing emotionally, which means the relationship is on the decline. In a healthy relationship, both partners need to feel heard.
Adapted from the book Fight Less, Love More, by Laurie Puhn (Rodale, 2010).
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