After a few minutes of snuggle time every weekday morning, my partner JB rises and heads to the shower and I head to the kitchen. I start the coffee and then begin gathering a variety of small containers from the fridge: yogurt, strawberries, leftovers from dinner and other such sustenance. Then, I pack JB's lunch box with enough food for breakfast and lunch. I add silverware and napkins. And finish up with a thermos of coffee (fixed just right) and a glass of orange juice.
JB walks out of the bedroom ready to face the day, gives me a kiss and heads to work. I fix a cup of coffee and head downstairs to my office to begin my own work day as a writer and life coach. This has been our routine for four years and it suits us beautifully.
I've had girlfriends tell me I'm spoiling him. Or that I'm taking us back to the 50s and channeling June Cleaver. But that's not what this little morning routine is about. What I'm doing is beginning our day in this life together with a love nugget.
What's a love nugget? It's a small, everyday gesture for your partner. Research of more than 4,000 people looked at relationship quality, maintenance and happiness. What they discovered? Everyday acts of love can lead to a happier, healthier and stronger relationship, even more than big gestures like romantic getaways and expensive jewelry.
Before I read the research and heard the term "love nugget," I saw our morning routine as a simple act of love and support. It was one of the ways I tended our relationship. Though I have some mornings I'm impatient to dive into my work, I continue this morning routine because JB always thanks me for it.
The love nugget for him: I pack his lunch every morning because I know he's too busy to leave the office and go out to lunch.
The love nugget for me: he thanks me and lets me know how much he appreciates my support and my actions.
Too often, couples see each other as adversaries. They keep score of each other's good (and bad) deeds. They try to be the partner in power. They take a quid quo pro approach to their marriage. She does something nice only if he does something nice. And vice versa. Couples forget that commitment means you're on the same team.
How can you bring love nuggets into your relationship? Here are some things to consider:
What's your love language? What's your spouse's love language? What small acts of kindness can you do that adequately address your love languages?
What small kindnesses can you do for your partner that demonstrates that you're committed to him and your relationship?
In what ways can you communicate with your partner? A favorite in my book is love notes in lunch boxes and underwear drawers. I also appreciate that JB texts me when he gets to work safely and lets me know he's on his way home.
Do you use your manners? Please and thank you go a long way in daily life and help cement your bond.
In what small ways can you deepen your intimacy? Physical contact, including holding hands, hugs and kisses all promote a deeper sense of intimacy. Side-by-side activities, like sitting on the couch next to each other, reading books or watching TV are also small ways to create a deeper sense of togetherness.
In what ways can you use your unique gifts to support your partner? A retired Naval officer, JB wore uniforms for thirty years and knows nothing about fashion. I worked in a small boutique in college, so I match ties and shirts to his suits for him. JB has the patience of a saint and happily pulls weeds, which I find incredibly boring.
In what ways can you demonstrate you understand each other's likes and dislikes? This can include picking up a favorite food item he likes (that you don't!) or him watching a chick flick with you when he prefers action movies.
How can you express that you understand your partner? Extroverts, for example, need to talk things out while introverts need quiet time to recharge. Can you provide the type of support for your partner even if it's the opposite of your natural needs?
What can you do to surprise your partner? Maybe it's buying some sexy lingerie (and modeling it) or picking up tickets to a football game.
You deserve a healthy and strong relationship. Go ahead and still plan that romantic getaway and send flowers for her birthday. Just remember that small acts of kindness are another (easier) way to enhance your love. Bringing love nuggets into your daily relationship will enhance not just the health of your relationship, but increase your own level of happiness and sense of satisfaction. Love nuggets show you care, demonstrate commitment, improve communication and remind you that you're in this together.
A self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, Debra Smouse is a life coach living in Dayton, Ohio. She believes in order to be happy, you have to create a daily life you love. Connect with her at DebraSmouse.Com, on Facebook, and Twitter.