Often, the least glamorous, most accessible experiences are the most important and life altering. It's easy to be drawn to the exotic when a life change is desired. Vacations are a good example. Many of us need to have the experience of something completely different from our day-to-day lives in order to feel like we've had a genuine vacation. We are drawn to cruises and far away places. We want to be transported to a world as different from the one we left as possible. We want to get away from it all.
On the other hand, we all know that the little things count. Often they count more than anything else. Consistently paying attention to how often we touch, how often we express gratitude, how often we say what's really on our mind and how often we acknowledge the importance of those around us can have an amazingly positive effect on how well a relationship goes. In fact, relationship maintenance probably has more to do with relationship success than does the periodic "special" experience. Wonderful as those experiences can be, they rarely sustain.
So, the next time you want to improve the quality of your relationship, resist the temptation to do something "special." Instead, set out on a practice of doing a lot of little things consistently over time. Maintenance behaviors can slowly and reliably pull even the most difficult times into a better place.
Jake Thiessen, PhD
I've been working with couples for a very long time. And, I love it! This blog is my attempt to communicate some of the things I've learned over the past 40 years.