What Small Habits Make a BIG Difference in a Romantic Relationship?

What Small Habits Make a BIG Difference in a Romantic Relationship?

When Huffington Post Relationships reached out to ask what small habits actually make a big difference in romantic relationships, Spencer Northey LMFT and Elisabeth LaMotte LICSW both chimed in with ideas.


Lingering Kisses

“Make and effort to lengthen your hello and goodbye kisses to last for at least 6 seconds. Relationship guru John Gottman who wrote The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work calls this creating ‘a kiss with possibilities.’ And, yes, to begin this habit you may have to start counting in your head ‘1-2-3-4-5-6…’ until you get into the rhythm. Making your kisses last reminds you that your partner is so much more than your roommate.”

Labeled Praise

“Say more than ‘thank you,’ or ‘good job.’ Highlight what you are showing appreciation for. As in, ‘thank you for tidying the living room,’ ‘I really appreciate you picking me up,’ ‘great job getting the baby to sleep.’ Praise helps your partner feel loved and appreciated, and labeling the praise lets your partner know that you notice the little things they are doing. Labeled praise also helps a person know exactly what you like, so they can do more of it!”


I Statements

“When couples are ending therapy, I always ask them what was most helpful and least helpful about the therapy. The most common feedback that I hear from couples is that changing “you” statements into “I” statements is transformational. It seems like such a small tweak to say: “I could really use a hug” instead of: “you never hug me” but this shift completely changes the narrative. It pitches to the best in the other person and it organically communicates that you are willing to make yourself vulnerable and take ownership of your part in the relationship. It takes some practice to get into the habit, but it is worth it.”

Elisabeth LaMotte

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