1. Here’s one, tested and approved. Keep a small notebook, well hidden from her, and from time to time, write down a note about something she liked, wanted to buy, a place she wanted to go or something she wanted to do. Keep the dates as well. Then, on a special occasion or when you can afford it (timewise as well as moneywise), get her that little something she wanted to buy or take her out to that restaurant she fancied etc. The key is NOT to do this immediately after she asks for it but rather to wait long enough for “it” to leave her immediate thoughts. With this, she knows you care but more importantly, she knows you LISTEN.
2. If you have to fight, hold hands and go for a walk. It’s very, very, VERY difficult to get angry while holding hands, or while walking together in the same direction.
The latter advice is great for all relationships, not just romantic ones. Conversations that happen on walks are very different from conversations that happen when you sit facing each other. Try it.
3. This is easily the most important thing I can tell you: don’t argue about things you don’t care about.
That sounds simple, right? Why would you?
And yet I’ve had more than one man complain to me about how his wife was getting the place cards for their wedding reception ALL. WRONG. When questioned, they couldn’t explain why it mattered and said that OF COURSE they didn’t care.
But can you believe the font she chose? And look at this card stock!
Any time you find that you’re going to disagree, argue, or correct somebody you love, ask yourself: is this something I actually care about? Is it any of my business? Am I helping by putting my two cents in? If not, just can it.
Bonus tip: this works for every conversation you ever have, not just with your significant other.
4. Instead of buying my boyfriend gifts that are just things he can use or would like, I buy things that force him to do things that he’s always wanted to or that he keeps putting off:
For an anniversary, I got him a sketchbook in which I wrote little ideas about what to sketch because he’s got the talent but doesn’t do anything about it.
As a big graduation/anniversary/birthday present, I got him a cheap drum set because he played the drums as a young boy but hasn’t had the chance to play since his own set was given away.
For his birthday, I got him a groupon for capoeira classes because it was yet another thing that he’s always wanted to do.
Such gifts don’t have to be expensive; you can find a friend to teach him a lesson or two in something as a favor, you could make a sketchbook, you could just buy him a “___ for Dummies” book. I think one of the most important roles one has as a significant other is to push the other and support the other to be the best person they can. You don’t want to be the partner who holds the other back–this leaves both parties and the relationship stagnant. You want to help each other evolve and live life to the fullest.
PS. But you do need mindless downtime too. A favorite activity of mine with my boyfriend is to watch/rewatch a good TV series from start to finish. It takes a while to complete and is always a little go-to treat we have. When we’re apart, we Skype in the sessions by timing the start of the TV shows on our respective computers, and we can still see each other thanks to Skype’s feature that automatically minimizes the chat window in the corner of your screen.
5. I think one of the best things a woman can do for her man is to appreciate him. Make sure you thank him for the things he does, even if they’re small things, like taking out the garbage. Don’t act as if he owes you these things; you know you would hate it if he did that to you. If he’s good at computer stuff, thank him and tell him you’re so grateful. If he can do handyman stuff, make sure he knows how lucky you feel that he is so capable. Honestly, I’ve met men that were obviously just ripe for the picking because their wives/girlfriends didn’t show any appreciation or seem to value them at all. I’ve had to be careful sometimes not to sound too enthusiastic for that very reason. It’s so sad to see guys who feel as if they’re playing to an empty theater. BE the appreciative audience!
6. My number 1 relationship hack revolves around honey-do requests. We often find ourselves asking “Did you… .” This lingo inherently sounds critical, especially if the person has not done the task yet, which they probably haven’t. They are pretty likely to get defensive and become even less likely to do the task, so it’s lose-lose.
INSTEAD, ask them using this phrasing – “Have you had the chance to….?” It takes the pressure off the person, helping them save face by letting them blame their busy (or not so busy) schedule for not having done the requested task yet, rather than taking the blame themselves. The result is a much more positive response that is likely to lead to that task getting done = win-win.
This tip may work better on men then on women, but I tend to use it any question involving a requested task – with friends, family, colleagues, my boss – and it works wonders.
7. Relationships are a high contact sport! After years of research and experimentation our incredible marriage uses lots of hacks.
Some of the highlights are:
- In an emotionally heightened moment, I ask myself “Would I rather be right or happy?” Generally the answer is “Happy” but even when the urge to be right overpowers me, at least it isn’t a pure knee jerk response! I know what I am getting myself into and that the result won’t feel nearly as good.
- For couples who are going through a huge change or challenge, especially a new baby, it is really important to increase appreciation for one another. In those times, it is so easy to gather evidence against your loved one and collect data on all the extra sacrifices that you are doing. A 2 minute appreciation shower is a great way to reunite at the end of your busy day. Take turns, one minute Person A lauds appreciation onto your partner, switch and Person B does the same. It helps focus on the fact that you are both working hard to keep things going and feels good to know your partner notices your efforts.
- For any couple: COMMIT to the relationship. If you commit to a harmonious relationship, that decision guides every interaction. You cannot go to far off the path if you put the health of the relationship above egoic demands. It isn’t easy but it is worth it. When you decide to stay, no matter what, you can get through the tough spots with more confidence and support.
- When one of us needs to unload something, we generally ask, “Do you simply need a listening ear or would you like help problem-solving?” That way, neither of us feels like the other wants to “fix” us if we simply need to express. Also, we feel that we have each other’s backs if we want help solving something.
- Make yourself happy and then allow your partner to increase that happiness. I see too many people who don’t know how to be happy (or think that they are “happy” because everything looks right from the outside). A person who doesn’t know how to be happy sucks the vitality out of a room. And a person who refuses to allow her partner to contribute to her happiness is equally damaging.
These aren’t necessarily easy, but they are worth it! Getting through the tough stuff allows for connection deeper than I ever imagined possible. I wish the same for you.
8. It’s a super simple one, but often gets overlooked all the time.
Plan a weekly date night!
It’s simple, just one night that is permanently reserved for just the two of you to reconnect, spend time together, and appreciate each-other. Book the evening off entirely from work, and school, and everything else in your calendar so there are no distraction.
Get ready in different rooms of the house/apartment, and really put in a conscious effort into dressing up, putting on something sexy, and looking your best. Even if you’re just staying in and watching a movie, sure wear comfy sweat pants, but put something sexy on underneath for your partner to discover. If you’re getting all dolled up, don’t let the other person see you until you’re done and ready to wow them!
If you’re having trouble, alternate who’s planning it and depending on your budget set a general ratio of dates staying in to dates going out. Like every third date has to be going out and doing something.
So the first two dates would be staying in, drinking hot chocolate, cuddling up and watch a movie, or making dinner together/surprising partner with dinner. And then the third date would be something like heading to a salsa hall, or out for dinner, or to a local beach/lookout spot for a picnic and being romantic. Just something to get out of the house and create new memories and stories.
9. DO NOT talk/ be with each other all day long.
Whether on the phone or otherwise (if you’re in the same school/college/ office).
This way, you will not have anything to talk about when you both actually get free. This often leads to boredom and eventually frustration and breakups.
Instead, wait till the end of the day to talk to your partner so you can share everything with them and have a healthy conversation. This way, both people in the relationship will look forward to being with each other because there would be a variety of things to talk about.
The key is.. To always always be EXCITED to see your partner. And that’s not going to happen if you run out of things to talk about.
I personally have followed this for many years, out if which a major part (almost 4.5 years) was also long distance relationship and still very much together.
Note: I am NOT telling couples not to spend time together. There should definitely be days when it’s just the two of you. Otherwise what’s the point of being in a relationship. Right!!?
Here, I am talking only about an everyday practice.
10. If you want to really hack your relationship and take it to the next level here’s a quick hack.
If you do just this and nothing else, your spouse / girlfriend will be swooning in your arms. She will be smitten with everything you do, and will be singing praises of you in front of her family and friends.
Read John Grey’s 5 Love Languages.
Then discover the love language that your spouse or girlfriend has. It is one of these 5.
1. Words of Affirmation (she likes to be praised)
2. Quality Time (she want’s to spend time with you)
3. Acts of Service (she likes that you do things for her)
4. Receiving Gifts (she likes receiving gifts from you)
5. Touch (she likes being touched)
Then keep repeating that one act of love.
SO if she likes words of affirmation – keep giving her affirmation. Keep praising her about everything that she does.
Even if she knows that this is what you are doing – she’ll still love it. The smallest praise will make her melt in your arms.
11. I know a guy who has a standing $10 tip with his wife’s hair dresser. He gets a call each time his wife gets her hair cut with a brief description of what was done. Wife walks in the door, he says “Honey, did you get your hair done? It’s a bit shorter and looks great!” Winners all around.
12. My bf and I have divided up the chores. We never have to do the chore that we each, respectively, hate. I never have to wash dishes, take out the trash cans, or scoop dog poop. He never has to do laundry, clean the bathrooms, or change the sheets. It’s very low stress and things around the house stay neat….in the instances that we both hate the same chore, we’ll either do it together or take turns.
13. Use a silly codeword or phrase to defuse an argument.
My wife and I made a pact that we will stop arguing and hug each other if one of us says “red banana”.
It can’t just be used to shut someone up, it’s only useful when you’re both angry. Typically someone will calm down enough to remember to say the words then the other person will laugh and the argument will stop. Sounds a bit crazy but it works really well. I guess it helps to make you realise that most arguments are over silly things.
Think one up now before your next argument!