I once attended a party of a couple who had been together about twenty years. It was a great party. They were terrific hosts: kind, warm, gregarious, funny. You could feel the love and friendliness. And best of all you could see clearly that after so many years together they were still crazy about each other.
At some point I ended up standing in line to use the restroom (we’ve all been there, right?) next to one of the hosts and we began to chat as one does when standing in line to use the bathroom. Of course, I asked my favorite question when I see happy couples: “What’s your secret?”
And he replied immediately, “He always puts a fresh flower in the bathroom for me.”
Okay. That‘s the secret?
I must have had a skeptical look on my face because he went on to explain. (Imagine a cute Chilean accent.)
“I LOVE a simple fresh flouwah in the bathroom. For some reason it makes me hoppy to see this fresh flouwah in there while I’m brushing my teeth. It’s elegant and polished. Every time I see it I feel hoppy. I feel like my home is not complete without this touch. He doesn’t care at all for himself, but he knows I love it and for our entire relationship he has always put a fresh flouwah in the bathroom. Even when we go on vacation he’ll find a little something and put in a glass next to the sink.
It’s a little thing, but it tells me that he cares about making me hoppy. It’s like a little bond between just the two of us.”
Oh. Okay, seems simple enough.
Show love with simple gestures of kindness.
I’ve heard plenty of versions of this advice over the years:
“He gets up every morning and makes me coffee.”
“She has my car cleaned or detailed every time I’m out of town so that I come home to a clean car.”
“Every year he buys tickets to the ballet and goes with me.”
“Every night she sets out my pills on my nightstand with a glass of water.”
But here’s the key: consistency.
When you’re dating, it’s easy to remember these small acts of kindness. Unconsciously (or consciously) we do it for selfish reasons—we want them to like us.
Once you’ve been together for awhile these seemingly small acts can easily fall to the wayside because we know they’re not going to stop loving us if we don’t do them.We’ve all heard the complaint, “She/he used to do that all the time when we were dating, but since we got married she/he doesn’t bother anymore.” Sigh.
And that’s point: consistently show your love with a selfless gesture.
It’s the 4,000-mile oil change of relationships. Better to maintain as you go along than deal with a big repair down the road due to neglect.
And the beauty of it is that you’re not limited to just one gesture. As my accountant, who’s been happily married for more than forty years, used to say to me, “Be smart. You’ve got to look for every opportunity and use it.”
I love hearing what other people do for each other and collecting ideas. What about you? Any ideas that you’ve seen or heard? What does your partner do for you? Or you for them?
It’s never too late to incorporate a new gesture for your sweetie. What will you do for your sweetie starting this year?