10 cost-free ways to show your partner that you care

You don’t have to make a big show of affection every day, Hamm writes. It’s the smaller, priceless things that really add up to a loving relationship.

Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters/File
Two passengers hug each other as they look at the flight schedule board at the terminal for German air carrier Lufthansa at the Fraport airport in Frankfurt, Germany in this August 2012 file photo.

It’s easy to fall back on the big moments to show your partner that you care.

You spring for a big gift on your anniversary.

You buy flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day.

You help the kids create something special on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

The rest of the time, though, can easily be filled with complacency. The demands of everyday life can be great, particularly in partnerships where both members are working full-time or one member has a highly demanding career. Add children on top of that and you’re brewing a recipe for eventual problems.

The best way to keep a partnership on track is to make it clear on a very regular basis that you love, respect, and value your partner. You don’t have to make a big show of it every day – that’s not the point. It’s the smaller things that really add up and provide the backbone of a loving relationship.

Need some ideas? Here are ten.

Tell your partner you really enjoyed and appreciated the meal they made.

If your partner comes home tired, tell them that you love them and appreciate the hard work they do and insist that they spend an evening relaxing.

Pick a flower or two on your way home from work and put them in a glass vase on the table.

When you’re just sitting there near your partner, hold your partner’s hand for a while.

Tell your partner that you love him or her every day.

Suggest an evening activity that you know your partner loves, even if it’s not something you’re thrilled about.

Write a short “I love you” note on a piece of paper and stick it in your partner’s wallet or purse.

Take care of a task that your partner usually handles and don’t mention it; if it comes up, just smile and give your partner a kiss.

If your partner needs to blow off steam, listen and don’t interrupt (unless you’re trying to understand), and don’t bury the complaints in unwanted advice.

Hug your partner as the first one of you leaves for work, and hug your partner when the last of you gets home from work.

These are such little steps. They take perhaps a moment and rarely cost anything. Most of the time, the biggest effort involved is simply thinking of them. Yet, when they’re done consistently, they become a big part of the foundation of a stable and long-lasting relationship, and a stable and long-lasting relationship improves.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. 

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