1: Write a gratitude letter to your partner letting them know the big and small things you’re thankful for about them. Give it to them or read it aloud (while they blush).
Why: Studies have shown that people who regularly practice gratitude are more satisfied with their relationships with friends and family. In a study by Martin Seligman at U Penn, people who wrote gratitude letters and read them aloud to the recipient reported immediate increases in happiness and decreases in depressive symptoms.
#2: Renew a Commitment: If you’re married or in a long-term relationship, verbally renew your commitment to being there for your partner. It can be as simple as telling them over dinner, “I just want to let you know I’m here for you.” Or, “these past 10 years have been really good, and I am looking forward to the next 10 with you.”
Why: Adults who see themselves as socially engaged and supported are in better mental and physical health than adults who are socially isolated. Commitment to a relationship also refers to your sense of belonging in your role as a partner or spouse, which increases positive self-identity.
#3: At dinner or before bed, ask your partner, “What was the best thing about your day?”If something great happened, practice “active-constructive feedback:” show enthusiasm, ask questions, or ask them to relive the event by telling you all the exciting details.
Why: Research shows that sharing something positive makes people feel even better about it—which is called “capitalizing.” Shelley Taylor and her colleagues at UCLA have also found that how we respond to good news is even more important than how we respond to the bad stuff—practicing active-constructive feedback in response to your partner’s good news strengthens your relationship and gives everyone a happiness boost.
#4: Have one conversation this week where you pay 100% attention to what your partner’s saying. (Read: Don’t check your phone, not even once!)
Why: No surprise: Research on multitasking has shown that the human brain is insufficient when it comes to attending to simultaneous tasks. Studies have found that when we don’t give someone our full attention, we make more errors in communication and others tend to judge us more harshly. Giving someone your full attention lets the other person know that you care, and that they’re worth your time and attention.