Having a successful relationship means constantly working on it, and looking for ways to improve the connection between you and your partner.
Finding and identifying opportunities to work on your relationship might be easy to identify, low-hanging fruit that is dangling right in front of both of your faces. This could be due to disconnects and communication, fighting, disagreements, or basically anything that is very obvious.
But there are oftentimes many small opportunities that may not be as obvious but could have just as big of an impact when you actually slow down and pay attention to them.
Identifying and working to improve these small moments can have a big impact on the health of your relationship and create stability for its future.
Today I want to talk about five small things that you should be doing for your partner that can have a big impact on your relationship.
5 Things You Need To Be Doing In Your Relationship
1. Hold The Door For Them
I was raised in a way that if I am to walk through a door, and somebody else is coming through that door, I should wait to hold it open for them, even if that means waiting a little bit longer to enter myself.
It’s just common courtesy.
So of course when it comes to my partner, I’m going to act in the same manner, but maybe for a slightly different reason.
If my partner and I are walking through a door together, I can guarantee you that if I can touch that door, she’s not going to have to touch it. I’ll open it.
That’s just not about courtesy, it’s about respect. I don’t want her to have to do any extra work that I can do for her.
I also don’t want her to have to touch a dirty door that everybody else has been touching. If somebody’s gonna catch those germs, it’s going to be me, gladly.
Now, this doesn’t apply to opening the car door for her, although I will do that occasionally.
She’s independent and doesn’t need me to walk to the other side of the car to open the door for her that not only is she totally capable of opening herself, but nobody else is going to be touching.
No germs there.
It also sends a signal to anybody else who happens to see this door-opening act, that I respect my partner.
Respect is a relationship trait to be built, and it has to start somewhere. This small commitment of opening a door that you both are going to walk through for your significant other is a great place to start.
2. Walk With Your Partner
So one of the things that probably gets underneath my skin more than anything else whenever I am watching how other couples behave and seeing them walking with one partner far in front of the other.
Now, I do understand that there are probably times when one person needs to walk far in front, whether it’s for some sort of protection or to speed up a process like grocery shopping or something.
But more often than not, it comes across as one partner not wanting to be attached to the other, wanting to keep a level of separation so that not only do they not appear to be actually together, but to show our lead some sort of disdain and outward display of separation from the other.
I see this a lot, especially in retail and grocery stores, where specifically men will walk many steps in front of a woman, who is often also dealing with screaming kids and trying to manage the actual grocery shopping.
Not only that, the left behind partner is calling out to the one far in front asking for help, and now having to raise their voice in public to get their attention.
Making it a point to walk with your partner shows the outside world that you are a unit, together in whatever activity that is happening.
But more importantly, it shows your partner that you’re there with them, somebody to be relied on as a partner in cooperation.
It allows that slower person to use you as needed, whether it’s there for corralling kids, grabbing things off of shelves, or just for the sake of chatting to help the time go by.
And I’ll just say this, walking ahead of a partner that obviously is in need of your help just makes you look like a dickhead.
Walk with them, not in front of them.
3. Buy Them Gifts When You’re Supposed To
During my relationships whenever I was younger, including my first marriage, they were often times when certain celebrations would come up that would normally be associated with some sort of gift giving.
That might mean something as big as Christmas, or something much smaller on the scale like Valentine’s Day.
But when you’re with a partner, regardless of the level of importance of the holiday, these are still a great opportunity to show some sort of affection to your partner, to let them know that even though the holiday might be small, you take the relationship seriously and want to always show your appreciation.
But what I often found myself doing in relationships (when I was no longer interested in the other person), was simply skipping those opportunities.
I would justify those occasions or holidays as not being important enough to get a gift.
And many times, my partner would tell me not to get them something, that the event or opportunity wasn’t that big of a deal to require some sort of gift.
They basically were letting me off the hook for something I didn’t want to do anyways.
Because I was already somewhat emotionally disconnected, I use that as an excellent opportunity to get out of doing it.
But let’s be very clear here, that’s exactly what that is.
If you choose not to get your significant other something on occasions that are important to them, even when they tell you they are not, then it is not simply an issue of you not believing the occasion matters.
It’s because you think so little of them and the importance of your relationship that you weren’t willing to afford any of your precious mental or physical time putting any effort into them.
I remember one year telling my dad that I wasn’t going to get my wife something for Valentine’s Day. He very quickly corrected me and said “you’re going to get her something.“
Because it truly isn’t about the gift. It is about the thought.
Gifts on even the smallest and seemingly innocuous occasions show your partner that you don’t need a highly celebrated day in order to think about them and do something nice for them.
So stop trying to convince yourself and your partner that those days are not worth the effort. Because in the end, it’s not really about the day, it’s about them.
And they are worth the effort.
4. Treat Them As A Person, Not Your Property
Growing together as a couple can sometimes be difficult when one of the two of you has an opportunity to grow as an individual, or experience certain things that may not necessarily include or benefit you.
As humans, it’s common to have the first reaction to situations of feeling left out, ignored, or even unimportant, even though that isn’t necessarily the intention of the other person.
It’s just how we react as homosapiens.
Even the greatest opportunity for a partner can cause us on the other side, to try to frame that person‘s opportunity as to how it affects us personally.
We take their good opportunities or their good fortune, and instantly cast a shadow of our own self-doubt all over.
This, in turn, causes that other person to then feel some level of guilt about your incompetence and being able to simply be happy for somebody else’s success, even if it did not include you.
But, as a partner to that person, you should be rooting for their success, despite how it makes you feel.
Men often have a first reaction where they want the other partner’s success to somehow benefit themselves personally, even if the opportunity has nothing to do with them.
We are sometimes such crybabies that it’s hard for us to see somebody else winning, even in our own marriages, if it doesn’t somehow directly benefit us too.
We gaslight the other person. We try to sneak in hints of disappointment that somehow we were not also considered or included. We basically look for ways to hold them back, whether it be from moving forward with the opportunity, or we try to make them feel bad for moving forward with the opportunity.
But your partner is not your property.
Being able to give them the space to grow as an individual without the worry of retaliation or guilt from you, is the best path forward to creating a whole relationship where both of you are thriving and surviving and cheering each other on.
If you both are not growing, then you both cannot grow together.
5. When You Walk By Them, Touch Them
Every time I walk by my wife, I touch her in some way.
Now, this can range anywhere from butt slaps to simple fingertip grazing across her arms or back.
But I rarely let an opportunity go by when we are in the same vicinity that I don’t show some sort of physical affection towards her.
Why? Because I want to keep reminding her that not only do I find her attractive and want to touch her physically, but I am appreciating simply being in her presence.
As humans, we are genetically coded to desire the touch of other humans. Being around other people and not having any sort of physical interaction with them starts to cause a mental conundrum where we’re not quite sure why we are being deprived of these touches, despite being around people who can touch you.
This can lead to self-doubt, worry, and even depression, believing that you are around people who do not appreciate being around you or may not want to be around you at all.
And this can take a heavy toll over time.
So I’m always looking for opportunities to touch my wife. Whether it’s in the kitchen, in the car, or really anywhere. I want to keep reminding her that I enjoy being in her presence.
And don’t worry if it’s going to be too much touching for your partner. They will let you know if it starts to get weird.
Until then, graze away.
Relationships can be tricky, a minefield of emotion and puzzle-solving.
And these tips above aren’t necessarily going to rock their world, and it’s not really about that.
This advice above is simply to help create a foundation that over time will have your partner noticing the small changes equaling bigger relationship changes.
That’s when they start to notice that something seems different, that you guys seem closer.
And they may not even be able to put their finger on exactly what it is, and that’s perfect.
Slow and steady wins the race indeed.
Rob is a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Coach through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. For the past 10 years, Rob has been navigating the health and fitness landscape in a quest to better himself and those around him focusing on tools such as calorie and macro counting, intermittent fasting, and HIIT training techniques.