After the initial falling-in-love stage in a relationship, we can go through a cooling period. It is not that the feelings and affections were not true, but we have gotten used to the rush of oxytocin and other hormones that give us that floating sensation. Now the work begins – the work of staying in love. I call it “work” because this is an intentional undertaking and not a mindless venture.
We value what we work for and what costs us time and effort, and our relationship is a high-stakes investment. However, two different people can hardly ever exist on a neutral or positive plane indefinitely without being challenged by those clashing differences and our innate human selfishness. Where we direct our energy, our focus and feelings will follow.
So what small things can we do every day to remind ourselves and our partners that our relationship is valuable?
Hand-written cards and notes of appreciation turn our hearts toward our partners and tells them we are taking an intentional moment to say “I love you”. You can also do this by leaving a note on a little white board or post-its around the house.
You can leave a note, piece of chocolate, movie tickets, etc., under your partner’s pillow or in a place you know he/she will find it. This works especially well if we do not drop hints and put things in a place where they will eventually be found. This does not have to involve a lot of money – you can pick a few wildflowers in the park and put them in a glass of water on the nightstand. It could be a Hershey’s kiss under the pillow. It could be the toothpaste tube squeezed to the front or the trash taken out. I buy flowers for my partner a few times a month and keep them in fresh water so that there is a bright and beautiful reminder for her to see every day that I think of her even when we are apart.
* Take on a chore that your partner dislikes
* Schedule an evening together without telling your partner what you have planned (movies, dinner, beach, nature walk, games, field trip to the frozen yogurt shop, etc.)
* Do the dishes or clean up if your partner prepared the meal
* Save up for special occasions
* Schedule a flower delivery weeks in advance when you have the money
* Mail a letter to your partner’s place or work, if appropriate
* Compliment your partner in some way every day for something you genuinely appreciate or admire
* Pray that your partner will be blessed with every good thing in life and that you can honor him/her
* Do not let your eyes wander if in a committed relationship
* Learn how to talk openly with each other, even about doubts and fears
* Plan little getaways
What stands out the most are gestures that show we were thinking of our partners when absent. These seemingly small daily actions may not look like much, but when they are regular and consistent we send a message to our partners and to ourselves. Where our attention goes, there the investments of the heart will follow.