You only need to have one bad day and one really great spouse or partner to know that the little things matter.
Your boss screamed at you or your kids screamed at you and you didn't get done what you needed. Your spouse knows it and brings you your favorite dinner or favorite bottle of wine to make things a little better.
The little things are important. Maybe one little thing won't make a huge difference, but after five or ten years, lots of little things turn into one big relationship security blanket. Here are five reasons why:
1. Little things send a big message.
Subtle actions in intimate relationships send big relationship messages. We are always having two conversations in our relationships. The first is the issue we have to resolve: the kids' schedule, the finances, or the trash. The second conversation flows underneath the first.
Questions like, "Can I count on you?" or "Will you be there for me?" sneak their way into every interaction we have. This is why little disappointments can feel so big to you, but not to your mate.
But this can also work for you.
Snagging your partner's favorite ice cream on the way home, planning an unexpected date night, or taking an hour out of your Saturday to shape things up around the house may seem like small gestures, but they send valuable messages about the relationship.
2. Little things create desire.
Sex is funny in relationships. Some people need intimacy to have sex while others create intimacy through sex. Many times, these people pair up. When in distress, it can create a dance where each is seeking intimacy from the other while at the same time, withholding intimacy.
But when we intentionally find small ways to demonstrate initiative, like sending text messages throughout the day at work without an expectation of response, intimate and sexual desire often increase.
3. Little things create goodwill.
One of the first things I ask clients to do is intentionally be flexible about how they make sense of their partner's behaviors. I ask them to be open to new interpretations. This is important because partners almost always have two perspectives of the same event that seem vastly different.
Emotion tends to color perception in that way.
In order to help with this, I ask partners to consider ways that they can take initiative to foster goodwill. The little things do that. They allow partners the freedom to believe again that they can love and be loved.
4. Little things create loving feelings.
Love follows action. If we feel a loss of loving feelings in a relationship, it is often because we withhold loving behaviors. Sure, we may have justifiable reasons for withholding loving behaviors, but that is why I ask folks to be flexible, open to new experiences.
If you choose to engage in loving behaviors, you may be surprised to discover how feelings of romance and intimacy return to your relationship.
5. Little things communicate safety.
Can you think of ways that your parents used to behave that drove you crazy and embarrassed you, but that you look back on now with a fondness? Or on the other hand, can you remember a total lack of love and intimacy in your family of origin?
Little ways you express love and intimacy communicate safety not only to your partner or spouse, but also to your children. Parents who intentionally put their relationship or marriage first actually put their children first. It works that way, ironically.
More than busy schedules, the best schools, or the best grades, kids need parents who embarrass each other with their affection. Who laugh together.
These are just a few reasons why the little things are important. Can you think of more? Feel free to share this post with a reason why you think the little things matter.