When money is tight, love needs backup.
By Toni Crowe
Written on Oct 20, 2023
Photo: StockSnap | Canva
Love relationships are tough to maintain, even in normal times. When I observe relationships struggling in these hard money times, I know a touch of old-school helps.
Old-school love is gentle, with little room for sarcasm. Per a study conducted by Dr. John Gottman for The Gottman Institute, the number one predictor of divorce is disrespect manifested as contempt.
“Contempt. After years of researching divorce between couples, Dr. Gottman has found that contemptuous behavior is the number one predictor of divorce. Contempt can be expressed in forms of sarcasm, name-calling, mimicking, eye-rolling, and more.” — John Gottmann
When you go old school, attention and kindness become the way of communicating your affection. How much money you have does not matter — low-to-no-cost activities have an outsized impact. These small things will make their days better and relieve stress.
Here are 4 old-school ways to show your affection during inflationary times:
1. Engage routinely
I’m a grandmother three times over. I have young adult grandchildren at the age where they understand sex but still go “gross” if there is even a hint that grandma and grandpa could be engaging in physical contact. My sister pointed out that my honey and I are very “old school.” In thinking about her words, she was right.
We still call each other on the phone to talk when one of us is out of the house. My hubby went down to assist my son with a project (pre-COVID-19). He was gone for a few days. While away, he would call me in the morning to chat, and he would call me in the evening.
My grandchildren and children wanted to know why we didn’t merely text each other rather than make those messy voice discussions. I don’t think they understood. We wanted to hear the other person’s voice during the transaction.
Either an old-fashioned phone call or a newfangled text would be a pleasant surprise in the middle of the day; a lunchtime call/text would provide a stress reliever or a lift to a loved one. If one of them is discouraged, they share the burden; if either or both are having an excellent day, they share the success. Note this is free of additional cost as everyone already has a phone of some sort.
2. Surprise them
My spouse and I give each other greeting cards to show appreciation. I’m not talking about email cards but physical greeting cards where we write a sentence or two for the other person.
When we receive these cards, we insist on reading them out loud to whoever is around (read: grandchildren). The funnier the card, the better. Of course, the card makes us both laugh, leaving others in the areas watching us with amusement until they, too, start laughing. Laughter is contagious.
In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, psychology professor Shelly Gable wrote of the power of active constructive (enthusiastic, supportive, interested) interactions between couples as one key to a healthy relationship.
She said, “Active constructive responses to good news meet partners’ emotional needs and foster positive emotional experiences — in other words, the glue that holds relationships together.”
We are so busy maintaining the roles in our lives that we forget to thank those who routinely care for and love us. It is expected that your significant other will protect you and make decisions that guard your well-being. They don’t expect a monetary reward. It is precisely because they do not expect compensation that appreciation is so powerful.
3. Pay attention
A friend of mine told me that she checks her wife’s social media to see how she is doing each day. I do the same thing. Even though I’m right there with him much of the time. I cannot see his emotions. I use whatever is available to check on his emotional health.
They don’t expect a positive, powerful personal thank you. It is precisely because they do not expect acknowledgment that appreciation is so powerful. It won’t go wrong to provide a token of appreciation where others can acknowledge it.
4. Show your love
Middle-of-the-day uplifts, handwritten appreciation notes, and paying attention to your spouse make a difference. The cost of each of these actions is just your attention and focus on the person you love. As we struggle to make ends meet, the reward is that your spouse will still be your spouse.
There is nothing like a love that works, old school, or otherwise.
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Toni Crowe retired from corporate America to follow her writing passion. She wrote six books including two best sellers. Toni shares her hard-won life lessons in her writing.
This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.