If you think you need grand gestures to show your spouse love, you’re mistaken. One of the secrets to long-lasting love is making small gestures such as leaving your partner an endearing love note or holding his or her hand during a conflict. These gestures help couples form a secure attachment and build trust and intimacy.
It’s especially important for remarried couples to find intentional time to express positive emotions and appreciation to each other due to the complexity of their lives. The demands of daily stepfamily life seem to leave little time or money left over for relaxed, fun activities. However, using small gestures and rituals such a six-second kiss, as they depart in the morning, can help couples solidify their bond.
One of the things that Clare, 43, values about Sam, 45, is his ability to show love through his actions. Married for over five years, Claire and Sam are raising four children, two teenage sons from Sam’s first marriage, and Claire’s two daughters, ages ten and eight, from her previous marriage.
Like many remarried couples, once the bliss of their new marriage wore off, Claire and Sam stopped spending intentional time together and started drifting apart emotionally and sexually.
Clare puts it like this: “I never realized the importance of spending time alone with Sam until he started a new job last year. We really missed our time together because he started working long hours. The kids keep us very busy and we both have demanding jobs. My first husband travelled a lot and that was hard on our relationship. I don’t want to repeat the past and let this marriage fail.”
In his book The Intentional Family, author Bill Dougherty discusses “rituals of connection” as an important tool for successful relationships. A ritual of connection is a way of regularly turning towards your partner that can be counted on. These daily rituals can be brief and be small gestures of love.
Claire continues, “It’s important that we have our daily rituals like walking our dog and having a glass of wine and cooking dinner together in the evening. When we spend time together, even doing the mundane things, we’re closer. Yesterday, Sam made me a tea after a long day and it felt good.”
Sam responds: “Now that I’m working longer hours, it’s more of a challenge to find time to connect with Claire, but we don’t want our marriage to suffer like my first one did due to lack of attention.”
It would be easy for Claire and Sam to neglect each other. Claire’s two daughters live with them full-time and Sam’s two sons often stay with them on weekends and during winter and summer breaks. However, Claire and Sam embrace the notion that in order for their second marriage to thrive, they need to connect with each other on a regular basis and show each other love through small gestures.
Claire shares: “It’s kind of like tending to my garden. If I don’t pay attention to it, my plants with wither and die. I don’t want this marriage to fail due to lack of nourishment because Sam and I have the potential for an amazing long-lasting love.”
Many happily remarried couples like Claire and Sam find that with a small amount of effort, they can improve their marriage. Most gestures can be done in five minutes or less and don’t cost money.
Small Gestures Can Make a Difference
In fact, many studies speak to the fact that the secret to long-lasting love are small gestures such as making your partner a cup of coffee or cleaning up after a meal without him or her asking you to do so.
In his book The All or Nothing Marriage, author and professor Eli Finkel says, “The best marriages today are better that the best marriages of earlier eras.” He writes, “Indeed, they are the best marriages that the world has ever known.” Finkel points out that all marriages go through challenging times and small gestures which he calls “lovehacks” can sustain couples and help them ignite passion.
6 Ways to Make Small Gestures Count in Your Remarriage:
- Look for ways to lower each other’s stress. Problems at work, financial pressures, or family drama can all push a couple apart. Couples who can respond to each other’s stress in a way that is soothing rather than exacerbating tend to be able to weather the tenser times. Listen to your partner and express empathy without offering judgments or solutions. Offer to make your partner a cup of coffee or tea.
- Use kind and polite words, apologize, and grant forgiveness. Would you rather go to bed angry, or would you prefer spooning with your partner and repairing from an argument? Studies show that couples who apologize when they have hurt their partner’s feelings (even if done so accidentally) and practice forgiveness have a more successful marriage. That may seem obvious, but it’s important to remember. Forgiveness works.
- Help one another out. This can include helping your significant other make plans, run errands, complete tasks, or manage their time. These positive actions lead to interdependence, as partners begin to coordinate their behavior to try to bring their long-term goals to fruition.
- Show Your Love Through Actions. The Penn State University research team found that actions matter the most when it comes to expressing love. “We found that behavioral actions—rather than purely verbal expressions—triggered more consensus as indicators of love.” For instance, making the bed in the morning may be more important than giving your partner a compliment. Remember that actions often speak louder than words.
- Share a six-second kiss. A daily six-second kiss will increase your emotional and physical intimacy. According to author Dr. Kory Floyd, physical contact releases oxytocin (the bonding hormone), can improve our mood (for days) and can help you stay calm. Holding hands, hugging, touching, and making out can reduce your stress hormones (cortisol) and increase your sense of relationship satisfaction. If kissing for six seconds feels like too much, share a hug instead.
- Carve out time for daily rituals to do with your partner: Spend at least 20 minutes daily doing things to show love and kindness to your partner. Examine the schedules of family members and determine whether there is a reliable time that you can spend time alone with your partner. Consider eating one meal a day without screen time to enhance communication and enjoying a daily walk together, even if it’s brief.
Small Things Often
According to Dr. John Gottman, the small, intentional moments have more power than isolated, excessive gestures when it comes to creating and sustaining lasting love. Author Liz Higgins, LMFTA, reminds us that Dr. Gottman’s motto is “small things often.”
In other words, it’s important to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and other family events, but just remember to appreciate the little things.
Most of all, never underestimate the power of intentional time with your partner. Doing fun things together like going for walks, telling jokes, watching funny movies, or anything else that brings you both pleasure, can ignite passion and keep you connected. In order to feel alive in your remarriage, you need to put effort into spending quality time together – with an emphasis on small gestures of love!