How to Maximize Small Gestures and Fleeting Moments in Your Marriage
Blow me a kiss from across the room
Say I look nice when I’m not
Touch my hair as you pass my chair
Little things mean a lot
Give me your arm as we cross the street
Call me at six on the dot
A line a day when you’re far away
Little things mean a lot.
This is a portion of a song that topped the U.S. Billboard chart in 1954. Nearly six and a half decades later, the lyrics of, “Little Things Mean a Lot,” as recorded by songstress Kitty Kallen would no doubt still resonate with many married couples if a remake popped up on iTunes today.
When it comes to your relationship, the little things are the life’s blood of your connection. After all, no one can generate enough emotion, physical, or financial energy to live on grand gestures alone. Elaborate vacations, fancy dinner dates, and expensive jewelry would start to lose their impact after a while anyway.
Small gestures communicate a desire to keep your relationship a priority, thoroughly ingrained into the everydayness of your life together. Who wouldn’t want to know that they make their partner smile throughout the day? Who could resist feeling closer to a partner who left love notes, holds your hand, or thinks to pick up your favorite candy bar while filling up the gas tank at the corner store?
There are a multitude of ways to maximize small gestures and fleeting moments. Most are inexpensive and easy to do. More importantly, they boost goodwill, appreciation and relationship satisfaction in your marriage.
These acts solidify your love and gratitude for each other, helping to insulate and perpetuate your close connection and deepening friendship. If you feel stuck, consider generating ideas together in relationship counseling.
Maximize small gestures
Marital research by experts in relationship counseling like Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Teri Orbuch indicate that words, gestures, or acts of love and appreciation, referred to as relational bids or frequent affective affirmation, increase the odds of lasting love.
Make it your business to do or say things frequently that demonstrate how much you value and notice your spouse’s wants and needs. To truly maximize your efforts, be enthusiastic and consistent. Here are a few ideas:
• Brew his or her coffee in the morning
• Make your spouse’s favorite meals or dessert
• Show up at their job with lunch and an encouraging note
• Do a chore they hate to do
• Find things to be thankful for and make a point to say “thank you”
• Touch, rub, and pat your partner as you pass each other
• Kiss more, kiss longer and deeper
• Ask more questions about your spouse as a person and less about their responsibilities
Make the most of these fleeting moments
The whole idea here is to pay attention to anytime you and your partner cross paths or times of day you can briefly reconnect. The goal is to be present in your relationship. Moments strung together make for a general sense of contentment and comfort when you are together and apart.
Promote a sense of belonging to each other. Create an environment in which you assure each other that you’re on each other’s mind in the best ways possible.
• Coming and going.
Kiss “hello” and “good-bye” longer than you need to, embrace and lean in. Murmur something sexy or “I love you” in each other’s ear. Make leaving each other bittersweet again and ensure reunions are something to look forward to.
Nowadays, mealtimes tend not to be the leisurely affair they used to be. If you find your lifestyle doesn’t support long periods of dining, you can still take time to turn off the screens, look at each other, and check in. Promise to make time for a more in-depth conversation later and follow through.
• Workday breaks.
When you take a lunch or short break at work, take the opportunity to reach out to each other with a call, text, voicemail, or social media shout out. Reassure each other that there’s no such thing as “out of sight, out of mind,” when it comes to your love. Remain fond of each other wherever you are and show it briefly, but often.
• Car rides.
We spend a lot of time in our cars. Make the most of that time by finding ways to ride together more often. Do your errands together. Use the time to talk or listen to your favorite music and just enjoy extra time in each other’s presence. You might take a brief half hour to make the most of the car itself. A short make-out session in the car could be a marriage boosting memory maker your partner appreciates.
In short, small gestures and fleeting moments matter. How you maximize them or fail to recognize them, establishes critical relationship patterns in your marriage, for better or for worse.
About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with couples struggling with powerful issues such as infidelity, careers, and intimacy. He also specializes in treating addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and work-life balance.