In romantic relationships, it’s the little things that count. A little gift, an off-hand compliment, a moment of physical contact can vastly strengthen a relationship.
Psychologists Nathaniel Branden and Robert Sternberg have both researched and written about the challenges of romantic relationships. Their research has suggested 10 keys to keeping both partners content, satisfied, and happy with each other.
1. Tell your partner you love them
Although actions speak louder than words, words often speak more clearly than actions. Take a moment every now and then to verbalize your feelings for your partner.
2. Show some affection
Small acts of physical intimacy give your partner a warm feeling and convey the love and affection you feel for them. The littlest touch can be as important, or even more important, than the longest night of sexual intimacy.
3. Show appreciation for your partner
Let your partner know on a regular basis what it is that you like most about them -- what you admire, what makes you proud, what their strengths are in your eyes.
4. Share yourself
Don’t keep your likes and dislikes, dreams and fears, achievements and mistakes, or anything else to yourself. If it’s important to you, share it with your partner.
5. Be there for your partner
It’s obvious what you need to do when your partner faces a major life challenge like the loss of a job or the death of a loved one. But it’s just as important to be supportive when your partner faces life’s little challenges, too, such as an argument at work, a rough commute, or a misplaced check.
6. Give gifts
Take advantage of opportunities to give material tokens of your love. Just the right book picked up at the bookstore, a special dessert, a piece of jewelry or clothing you noticed at the store -- anything small or large that tells them you were thinking of them.
7. Respond gracefully to your partner’s demands and shortcomings
A big killer of relationships is unreasonable expectations. Unless you married a robot, your partner comes pre-loaded with a whole range of human failures and foibles. Learn to recognize and appreciate your partner’s quirks for what they are: an essential part of who they are as a person.
8. Make "alone time" a priority
No matter how busy both of your lives are, make sure you commit at least an evening every week or two to be alone together.
9. Take nothing for granted
Cultivate a daily sense of gratitude for your partner and the thousands of little blessings he or she has brought into your life.
10. Strive for equality
Make sure you follow the Golden Rule in your relationship: do unto your partner as you would have done unto you. Strive for a fair division of household duties and other tasks, and don’t expect or demand special considerations you’d be unwilling to offer in return.