Small actions or behaviors may seem inconsequential in the moment but have a big impact later on.
By Tara Blair Ball
Written on Sep 17, 2023
Photo: fizkes | Shutterstock
Over the past month, my husband and I have traded off who was the most ill. One day, my husband had a fever and I had to tell him that if he didn’t change out of his workout clothes and lie back down, I’d disown him. The next day, I was fighting an overwhelming malaise and moving between flat surfaces to lie on.
We also traded off who was going to take care of the other, who was well enough to head to the store for more cold meds or cans of soup.
We were both cranky and irritable and consequently snapped at one another.
But we also made little kind gestures for one another. I turned on an action film I know he likes. As I laid in bed, he gently rubbed my back.
All relationships are made up of a series of “micro-moves” — small actions or behaviors that seem inconsequential at the moment but affect how we relate to one another in the long term.
Choosing to do one little positive thing may not seem like a lot at the time, but each one adds up. A small act of kindness can bring you and your partner closer, while a negative interaction can create resentment.
I’m all about the details, and I like the idea of relationships being made up of tiny things.
Since my husband and I were both ill, it meant a lot that we both still tried to keep our relationship heading in the right direction.
Here are 10 little things you can do today to improve your own relationship. You seriously only have to pick one to make a difference!
Here are 10 micro-moves you can make to improve your relationship today:
1. Get them a gift
Whenever I see something that reminds me of my husband, I try to purchase it. It could be something like a bottle of his favorite soda or a pack of wintergreen gum.
These may be small tokens, but they show that I was thinking about him, and I love seeing a smile on his face after I’ve had a long day.
2. Ask them, “How are you doing?”
I try to ask my husband at least every couple of days how he’s doing. I want him to know that I care about him and how he’s doing. Sometimes I forget to share how I am doing emotionally unless I’m explicitly asked.
3. Exercise together
There’s something a little hot about getting all sweaty with your clothes still on. Even if my husband’s lifting weights on one side of the gym and I’m on the treadmill near the paper towels and sanitary wipes, it’s nice when we go together.
It’s nice kissing each other before we split off, and it’s nice when he comes and pats my butt when he’s done lifting and it’s time to go.
4. Ask for help
I have good grip strength. I rarely encounter a jar I can’t open. Doesn’t matter. I often ask my husband to open jars for me. Do you know why? Because he likes helping. It makes him feel useful, and despite the fact that I’m not a “damsel in distress,” it feels a little nice being cared for by my partner.
5. Say “Thank you”
My husband does the laundry in our house. I do the dishes. We have a fairly equitable home, but just because we each contribute in our own way doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve a thank you.
You know what? I hate folding laundry. I think my husband is an angel for folding laundry, so whenever it occurs to me, I thank him for doing it and anything else that he does that I think is awesome.
It’s nice when someone you love thanks you for the little things you do, right?
6. Leave notes
My husband uses a day planner to keep his work life organized. It’s this large leather binder that he opens up every night, reviews what he’s doing the next day, and makes sure to add things to his to-do list that he didn’t get to that day.
When I want to leave him a sweet note, I put it in his day planner some amount of days into the future. It could say something as simple as “I love you so much!” or, if you want to kill two birds with one stone, “Thanks for doing the laundry!”
7. Make out
When my husband and I first started dating, we made out a lot. I loved the feel of his 5 o’clock shadow against my neck and the soft way he’d suck on my tongue. Making out with him was delicious and exciting.
But the longer we’ve been together, the less we’ve prioritized making out when there are … ahem … other fun things we can skip to.
But the art of making out shouldn’t be forgotten. It can at least be thrown in as something to break up the routine.
8. Take turns
My husband loves superhero movies. The over-used primary colors and characters dressed in capes. Evil vs. good. I, on the other hand, really dig rom-coms. I want a dweeby or know-it-all gal who ends up falling in love with the slightly awful, possibly misogynist, but also “deeply sensitive” guy.
We both have our guilty pleasures, so it’s nice that we take turns to show that we respect each other’s interests. Yes, I’ll suffer through an episode of The Flash tonight, but tomorrow, he’s on deck to moan through an episode of The Bachelor.
9. Create rituals/traditions together
Every Friday night, my husband and I order pizza and watch a movie at home. At the end of a long week, I love knowing that I can change into pajamas, fire up Netflix, and shovel pizza into my mouth next to my beloved.
We have other rituals and traditions we’ve created, like how we approach certain holidays. I do love that our Friday night pizza date is every week, so we never lose out on that special time together.
I love having a good “Do you remember our first date/kiss/etc.?” session with my husband. It reminds me of when he saw me for the first time and I looked way better than my photos, when I grabbed his collar at the end of our date and laid one on him, when we fell in love…
Reminiscing gives us the opportunity to relive all of that initial excitement. It allows us to continue to build on and shape our shared history. Sometimes by going back over these old stories, we discovered new things that had been left out previously. Either way, it reminds us that we’re in love and helps keep us in love.
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Tara Blair Ball is a certified relationship coach and podcast co-host for the show, Breaking Free from Narcissistic Abuse. She’s also the author of three books: Grateful in Love, A Couple’s Goals Journal, and Reclaim & Recover: Heal from Toxic Relationships.
This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.