9 Things The Happiest Couples Do For Each Other Without Being Asked
Small gestures can have a big Impactn
By Kelsey Borrese
In a healthy relationship, people tend to give love and support freely and frequently. They don’t wait for a special occasion to show their appreciation. They genuinely enjoy doing nice things for one another “just because” ? no prompting necessary.
We asked relationship experts to tell us what kinds of things, both big and small, happy couples do for each other without being asked. Here’s what they had to say:
1. They check in with each other. “Whether it’s a ‘hello’ text or call to ask, ‘How did it go?’ the happiest couples reach out. They call to say, ‘I’m running late,’ or ‘We just landed,’ or ‘Do you need me to stop at the store on my way home?’ The message: I’m thinking of you. The result: A feeling of being connected, being a key part of each other’s lives.” ? Winifred M. Reilly, marriage and family therapist and author of It Takes One to Tango
2. They give each other compliments. “This doesn’t have to be a lovey-dovey compliment about being the best wife in the world, but even an offhand remark recognizing someone’s contribution, like ‘great dinner!’ Although some couples do well without positive feedback, the majority of people like at least a little bit of verbal recognition for their contribution, and happy couples are free with positive feedback.” ? Samantha Rodman, psychologist and dating coach
3. They surprise each other with a card, just because. “Giving your partner a card that says ‘Thinking of you’ or ‘Thank you for all you do’ is such a sweet gesture. It will make him or her feel special and it’s a great reminder to you as well of all you have to be grateful for. An added fun touch would be to leave the card somewhere your loved one will happen on it. My husband loves to leave cards for me in the refrigerator. I often leave his cards under his pillow.” ? Susan Pease Gadoua, marriage therapist and the co-author of The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels
4. They act generously, instead of keeping score. “Generosity is something freely given as a gift, with nothing expected in return. When a relationship feels secure, it is easy to want to offer more than your fair share of tasks or thoughtful gestures to show your love for your partner. Whether moving their clothes to the dryer for them or going on their favorite hike again, highly fulfilled couples tend to maintain great satisfaction from being thoughtful and generous toward their partner rather than scorekeeping.” ? Kari Carroll, couples therapist
5. They speak openly about their thoughts and feelings. “When partners feel that it’s like pulling teeth to get each other to divulge any thoughts or feelings, a relationship can feel very lonely. Happy couples may not communicate constantly on a deep level, but they do it frequently enough to feel that they really know one another.” ? Samantha Rodman
6. They surprise their partner with their favorite food. “We all know that food is nurturing and helps people feel connected. But when you go out of your way to bring home a special food you know they will love, it’s a wonderful way to put ‘I love you’ into action. If the favorite food is a meal that you make — rather than, say, a pint of Haagen Dazs — you’ll undoubtedly get even more points.” ? Susan Pease Gadoua
7. Or with a freshly washed car. “Regardless of whether you do the washing yourself or take the car to a car wash, when your partner sees their squeaky clean wheels on the street or in the driveway, he or she will likely be very grateful.” ? Susan Pease Gadoua
8. They’re in the habit of saying ‘thank you.’ “Despite the mundanity and complacency that can develop within a long-term partnership, a sure way to keep the fire alive and burning brightly is to watch your partner beam when you regularly notice and point out their contributions to your life. People want to be reminded they are of value to you, and secure couples understand that this should be frequent. Although you may assume your love to be understood, in reality, acknowledging your partner’s efforts and contributions consistently builds an even deeper connection.” ? Kari Carroll
9. And ‘I love you.’ “And they do it when it’s unprompted, unsolicited, and unexpected. In many relationships the ‘I love yous’ come more from one partner than the other. Typically one leads and the other follows. Too often I hear the excuse, ‘I don’t want to overuse it.’ In happy relationships, both partners initiate saying it and they mean it when then do.” ? Kurt Smith, therapist who specializes in counseling for men I
f your partner doesn’t do all of these things, don’t fret. Relationships are a work in progress, and if you’re not getting what you want out of it, you should ask. You aren’t a mind reader, so you can’t expect your partner to be one either.
Anger and Depression
Anger and depression in children, teens and adults, is often a way we avoid deeper, more uncomfortable feelings. Think of anger and depression as symptoms or as a way a person, unconsciously, tries to hide a more upsetting feeling or thought. Anger and depression become ways to protect ourselves from thoughts and feelings that we do not want to face. These thoughts and feelings usually revolve around guilt or shame or hurt, often stemming from a traumatic experience and for which we sometime begin to blame ourselves.
Sometimes, current events can trigger memories of these painful thoughts sand feelings and we may quickly cover them up with anger or depression.
Therapy can help by creating a safe place for the individual to gently revisit the trauma and re-experience it in a different way beginning to see the trauma as it truly was: where the individual was the victim, not the perpetrator and where the victim actually has no guilt and shame. Relief and healing can be the result.
If you or someone you know struggles with anger or depression, call me to see if I can help at 760-766-1622.
How Can Couples or Marriage Counseling Help Me?
The answer depends on what brings a couple into therapy. In many cases, the presenting problem is:
• Unhappiness, loss of sexual desire or frustration
• An affair or other form of escape for “checking out” of the relationship
• One of you feels ignored or emotionally abused
• The other person always seems to gets his or her way
• Constant quarreling or fighting without any resolution
Whatever the reason, these problems (feeling alone, abused, responsible, an affair, drinking excessively) are actually symptoms of the problem, not the cause. It is the role of the couples or marriage therapist to help the couple uncover what the true causes are and to help the couple work to repair the relationship.
One way to look at how we participate in relationships is to think of our roles as husband, wife, partner or parent. We learn these roles based on how we saw our parents acting in our own families. Most of us, unconsciously, imitate our father or our mother. The result is that we play out the same roles that our parents did, for better or worse. This explains how we find ourselves repeating patterns of divorce, abuse or feeling victimized, relationship after relationship, generation after generation.
However, when we look at ourselves and begin to understand not only what and how we act but why we act the way we do, we can see that we have the opportunity to change because our behaviors are simply habits and habits can change. Yet there is more to change than just becoming aware of ourselves. Awareness alone is not sufficient for change to occur.
Marriage or couples counseling or therapy can make us aware of what and why we do what we do in a relationship and show us that we have options. But, change requires us to actively engage in different behaviors with our partner, child or parent. The first change involves a new approach to communication using honesty and integrity.
If you are interested in exploring this approach to couples or marriage counseling, please contact me at 760-766-1622.
Is It Really Bad Behavior?
It doesn’t trouble me that most of us imitate our parents and repeat the same mistakes or good behaviors that we saw as children. What does bother me is that most of us don’t know that that is what we do even though it often gets us into trouble. The good news is that once we begin to notice what we do, we can actually change or stop those behaviors that we (or our partner/family/associates) dislike.
The fact that we imitate our parent(s), their beliefs, their behaviors, their attitudes, even the ones we disliked as kids, is true and troubling. However, we are not locked in to those beliefs, behaviors and attitudes. We can change them and, in most situations, we need to do that, to find our true selves.
This is where psychotherapy comes in. It can teach us to become more aware of what we do, why we do it and the power that comes from knowing we can change how we think and how we act when we want to, when it is in our best interests and the best interests of those we care about.
Change is possible though it takes hard work. Realizing that what we have done and do can be painful and there is remorse but change can also be refreshing and rewarding.
We can become the person we want to be and who our significant other wants us to be. And it feels good to know we are moving in that direction.
If this interests you, call me at 760-766-1622.