Happiness can be a hard thing to come by. One aspect of life we know has a huge effect on a person’s happiness is their relationships – specifically their primary romantic relationship. Research indicates that being single makes people happier than being in a bad relationship, but being in a good relationship makes people the happiest of all.
So how does one make their relationship good?
There’s obviously no simple answer to this question. But it turns out that sometimes simple, small — some might even say trivial – gestures towards your partner can have a palpable positive effect. These micro-moments of love and kindness really can improve your relationship… and your life!
Here are seven simple relationship hacks to make your life happier today:
1. Send one supportive text to your partner each day.
Unlike other texts you may send to your partner throughout the day, this one is not to discuss errands or to plan your evening. It’s simply to support the other person in his daily activities.
It could ask “How did your big meeting go today?” or state “Just wanted to tell you I’m thinking of you while you’re in your interview!” Not only do these make your partner feel great, they encourage you to know what’s going on in each other’s daily lives.
2. Have one small gift on hand.
The thing about gifts is that they’re so much more thrilling when they’re unexpected. Keep a small stash of things you think your partner might like on hand to spring on them when they least expects it.
This could include edible treats, a book… or anything they’ll find sweet or funny. Sometimes it’s the smallest gift — delivered at the perfect moment — that gets the biggest reaction!
3. Start a “proud of you” journal.
This idea came from friends of mine who were supporting each other in their journey to eat healthier. They bought a paper journal — which now lives on their coffee table — and started writing messages to each other whenever they noticed their partner making positive strides.
Soon, this journal was filled with messages like, “I’m really proud of you for eating your broccoli today,” and, “I was so impressed with the smoothie you made this morning!” Doesn’t it feel great when your hard work is noticed and acknowledged?
4. Create a “coming home” ritual.
The time when a couple reunites after a day of work is a special one. It can be fraught with spill-over tension from work if not treated wisely, or it can be the absolute best five minutes of your day.
Create a routine in these first few minutes together that signals warmth and positivity, no matter what’s going on in the larger picture. This could be as simple as hugging the moment you see each other, or sitting down right away to share a cold beverage.
5. Use the 3-2-1 rule.
The 3-2-1 rule helps diffuse any tension that may arise when a couple can’t decide what to do — like what restaurant to go to or what movie to watch. Together, come up with possible three options. Then, one person eliminates one option, and the other person eliminates the other option. Et voila! No more tension around what to eat or what to watch.
6. Buy a message board.
A small white board mounted somewhere prominent in a couple’s home can become a treasure trove of positive interaction.
Once, a friend of mine — who was learning Chinese to better communicate with her husband’s parents — walked into her living room to see a special message from her husband etched out in marker on their white board. It said, “My wife, I love you” in Chinese. Let’s be real… that’s adorable.
7. Every once in a while, do something you hate for your partner.
Like most couples, my husband and I have our semi-official list of household duties that each of us perform. He takes out the trash and I do the laundry. We don’t normally deviate from this routine, but when we do… it’s amazing.
One of my duties is to move my car twice a week for street cleaning (we live in a big city with no assigned parking space). But one morning — oh, it was a glorious morning! — I went outside to see that the car had already been moved. It made me feel like it was Valentine’s Day… but better.
These easy relationship hacks have a substantial positive effect. Watch them improve not only your relationship, but also your life.