Appreciating the Small Things in a Relationship

by Feb 21, 2022Appreciation, Relationship

Underestimating the Impact of Putting Down the Toilet Seat

Deep relationships are not built upon grandiose gestures – quite the opposite. By appreciating the smallest of things in our lives with our partner, and regularly showing gratitude, we nurture health into our relationship.

Why Noticing and Appreciating the Small Things Matter

Never underestimate the impact of any simple act – like putting the toilet seat down! 

Think about it like this, when the seat is left up, it may be construed as an uncaring infraction – something that is often reacted to, taken to the source, and reprimanded negatively – which can leave a dent in the day (and in the feelings of your partner). 

When the seat is put down, it is typically considered a gesture of kindness and awareness, and it speaks to both partners with two unsaid words, “I care.” 

Why is any of this important?

Putting the toilet seat down, or not, is a relatively small thing in comparison to much larger issues that can occur in relationships. 

When we notice, appreciate, and choose to spend our time focused on the small relevant things in our relationship, it grows a gratitude tool that staves off negativity. It helps us to process our emotions with clarity, to disregard what does not matter, and ultimately it deepens our connection. 

This focus stops us from keeping score of all the ‘bad’ points, the weaknesses, and the forgetful actions of our partner. Instead, we treasure the good. We appreciate our partner’s intrinsic wholeness and worth, and this helps to cultivate a healthy foundation for our relationship. 

Appreciating the Small Things: Deliberate Effort

When we fall into the habit of allowing our time and energy to drain from the negatives in our relationship, deliberate effort is required to redirect our thought pattern. 

Related: The five things most couples fight about, and how to stop the cycle.

It requires an effort that involves taking the time to slow down and to notice the small things – the things that benefit our relationship and should never be taken for granted. 

This helps us to clearly see our partner through the positives, including their values and acts of kindness (such as): 

  • The qualities that they live by.

  • The way they support you.

  • The way they connect with you.

  • The way they show affection.

  • The way they parent your children.

  • The way they cook. 

  • The way they pick up messes.

  • The way they offer (or just step in) to help you.

  • The way that they snuggle with you.

Speaking and Gesturing Appreciation

It is a deep human need to be loved and to be seen for who we truly are. 

Supporting our partners involves appreciating who they are, but it means going beyond just noticing the little things that they do. Support is conveyed when we speak words of gratitude, and even more importantly when we show our appreciation through gestures. 

Research completed at the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State supports the theory that speaking and gesturing appreciation to our partners can help them to feel loved, “Whether we feel loved or not plays an important role in how we feel from day to day,” Saeideh Heshmati (postdoctoral research scholar) said. “We were curious about whether the majority of Americans could agree about what makes people feel loved on a daily basis, or if it was a more personal thing. Our results show that people do agree, and the top scenarios that came back weren’t necessarily romantic. So it is possible for people to feel loved in simple, everyday scenarios. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top gestures.”

“We found that behavioral actions — rather than purely verbal expressions — triggered more consensus as indicators of love. For example, more people agreed that a child snuggling with them was more loving than someone simply saying, ‘I love you,’” Heshmati said. “You might think they would score on the same level, but people were more in agreement about loving actions, where there’s more authenticity perhaps, instead of a person just saying something.”

Small gestures that speak love and appreciation include (but are not limited to):

  • Thank your partner for something that they did.

  • Compliment your partner. 

  • Show that you are listening (put down the phone and make eye contact).

  • Reach out and touch your partner (hug, cuddle, massage). 

  • Do something for your partner “just because.” 

  • Write a love note or a note of appreciation.

  • Run an errand or complete a task for your partner. 

  • Apologize when needed (such as after an argument). 

Don’t forget the smallest of things that can speak your love and gratitude – like showing up with your partner’s favorite cup of coffee or a cold bottle of water when they are working, cooking their favorite meal, or planning a couple’s night. 

Related: Don’t make assumptions in your relationship!

Do You Need Help with Getting Your Relationship on Track?

When things have gone off track and you’ve done all that you can do to heal your relationship, it may be time to reach out for help.  

We believe that, by doing the work together, you can bring health to the relationship that you are in – and that it will thrive

Request an appointment to get started.