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A Little Goes a Long Way  

This month starts a new series on making love last.  Over the next few issues I will offer some ways to keep love and connection alive in your relationship.  These principles are backed by research and are adapted from an article in the American Psychologist earlier this year. 

What does that mean, a little goes a long way?  It refers to the idea that one of the things that make couples feel happy in their relationship is when their partners make them feel special and cared for.  It is the little things that make this happen.  Doing small things that make your partner feel appreciated and loved helps keep the relationship happy.   Such things are also associated with married couples who don’t get divorced.

Verbalizing appreciation or expressing love can do the trick.  So can sneaking a note or a treat into a work bag or suitcase when a partner is going on a trip.  One of the things I have often heard from people who are less than generous with telling their partner they love them is that their partner knows it already.  That doesn’t really matter.  Saying it seems to help keep the glue of the relationship strong.  Others say the show their love by the things they do, and this can be helpful to connection, but remember the quality we are talking about here is making your partner feel special and cared for.  The routine things we tend to do for each other unfortunately do just that over time – become routine.  It is helpful to throw something unexpected or apparently trivial in there at times.

Interestingly, the research suggests that feeling appreciated is even more important for keeping men connected than women.  Men who don’t feel affirmed by their spouses are twice as likely to get a divorce as men who do feel affirmed.  That same difference is not present in women.  Some hypothesize that women are more likely to receive affirmation in friendships and other places outside of the marriage but it is not clear why this difference exists. 

Men should not take this to mean that expressing appreciation and affection is not that important for them.  It certainly makes a difference in the way their partners feel in the relationship and therefore improves the quality of the relationship.  I mean, it’s kind of like the title of this essay says: A Little Goes a Long Way.  Expressing appreciation is a little thing, a simple thing to do, so why not do it?  Especially since it adds so much to a relationship.