The “small things, often” grow your bank account of love

If love were enough, probably all couples would be happy. The simple truth is that relationships take work and, yes, the ‘little things’ add up. One awesome piece of knowledge from the Gottmans is referred to as doing “small things, often.” Gottmans’ years of study proved that the ‘little things’ build trust and intimacy in a relationship and according to a new study by researchers at Penn State University, you don’t need grand gestures to show your partner love. In fact, small gestures, such as hugging, holding hands, and regular acts of kindness (non-romantic gestures) all top the list of how most Americans reported feeling loved and appreciated. The study also found that behavioral actions, rather than purely verbal expressions, triggered more consensus as indicators of love.

The Gottman’s demonstrated that in lasting relationships, there is a culture of appreciation that is maintained using small moments to connect with your partner. These small things aren’t grand gestures demonstrated on Valentine’s Day, buying a piece of jewelry or surprising your partner with an Anniversary trip—although it is certainly great if partners are good at doing that too. The problem is that over time, big gestures tend to get spaced farther and farther apart, because life inevitably changes. Life happens, it just does.

These “powerful small things” can change the everyday moments you share with your spouse; day in and day out, between wrestling toddlers into car seats or arguing over who’s going to do the dishes. These “powerful small things”, that often are not romantic, are rituals of connection, that when done often, help couples avoid falling into too deep of a hole of disconnection—so when things get ugly, spouses still have those many moments that can remind each other that they are in this together.

A good metaphor for this concept is to think of your relationship as an emotional bank account. Like any bank account, you need to make deposits to have it grow. If you make too many withdrawals, the bank account will eventually close. This doesn’t mean keep score, this means focus on making more positive contributions to the relationship rather than withdrawals. If the account is always withering low, it can take just one thing to push your partner over the edge.

References:
https://www.gottman.com/ https://news.psu.edu/story/491253/2017/11/06/research/love-actually-americans-agree-what-makes-peop le-feel-love https://thriveglobal.com/stories/the-one-thing-any-couple-can-do-for-better-connection-and-intimacy/ https://gulfsidecounseling.com/2020/02/18/small-things-often/ https://www.lessonsforlove.com/

Written By:
Laura Spalvieri
Counsellor, Psychotherapist & Transactional Analyst

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