Always make your partner smile.
When it comes to love and marriage, we Millennials are notoriously cynical.
We have high standards. We’re finicky. TIME calls us a generation that’s been raised on “a wedding industry that could fund a small nation, but marriages that end before the ink has dried.”
Although the vast majority of Millennials (69 percent, according to Pew) do want to get married, we just have a lot of reservations: We have parents whose marriages we’ve seen crumble, the overwhelming pressure of the hook-up culture, and a feeling that we’re a constant work in progress that might never be ready to bring someone else into the picture. It makes sense that we’re skeptical of the idea of “’til death do us part.”
I’ll admit that besides being calmer on the heart, there’s a certain appeal to being cynical. Social psychologist Jennifer Bosson tells New York Magazine that there’s “something really powerful about the discovery of shared negative attitudes.”
Her research suggests that people enthusiastically connect when they have something to mutually hate, so groups of people who bemoan the same things — in this case, love — can form super strong social bonds.
However, Dr. Barton Goldsmith, voted as one of America’s best therapists by Cosmopolitan and the book “The Complete Marriage Counselor,” offers 10 pieces of advice to cynics like us about making love truly last forever. According to him, it really is possible.
1. Be kind.
Do simple, nice things for each other, like open doors for each other, cook each other nice meals, and say “I love you” frequently. These little moments of kindness get lost when couples experience problems.
2. Make your partner smile.
Finding little things to make your partner smile might sound like common sense, but it’s something that falls to the wayside too quickly.
Dr. Goldsmith calls it “the Scavenger Hunt.” He looks for something — whether it’s a flower, a keychain or a quote — to make his partner smile every day. It lets her know she’s always on his mind.
3. Don’t let small, annoying behaviors detract from your relationship.
For the most part, if little things about your partner piss you off, let them go. Remind yourself that they aren’t ruining your relationship, and that they’re unimportant.
However, if you have to have a conversation with your partner about how they watch the television too loudly or chew too audibly, keep it as light-hearted as possible. These things can be fixed.
4. Don’t argue in front of your children.
When parents fight in front of their kids, it makes kids nervous that their family is falling apart. Dr. Goldsmith says that a good relationship is “the greatest gift parents can give to their children.”
5. Find the good in your partner.
Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of your partner, focus on the positive — and then tell your partner all of the wonderful things you notice.
Dr. Goldsmith emphasizes:
Some people go on a detective-like search for things that their partners do wrong, maybe because they want some ammo for the next time they have an issue, but telling your mate what he or she is doing right may well prevent that imaginary issue from ever coming up.
6. Don’t “blame, shame, or complain.”
Before doing any of these things, it’s important to ask yourself how what you’re going to say will make your partner feel, and then, if it will make things better or worse.
Pointing fingers is easy, but it’s more effective to tell your partner what you’d like him or her to do differently and offer examples. And most importantly, Dr. Goldsmith implores you to “please do it in a nice way.”
7. Write and leave around love notes.
Leaving a small “I love you” note in your partner’s coat pocket or desk drawer is a powerful way to show your affection for him or her.
It’s kind of cheesy, but Dr. Goldsmith says it’s effective. In fact, any time you can remind your partner of your affection for him or her, even if it’s tiny doses, do it. It’ll raise your partner’s spirits and motivate him or her to get through the day.
8. Be (non-sexually) physical.
Hold hands while walking outside, cuddle on the sofa or touch the small of their back in public.
These non-sexual, physically affectionate moments may seem unimportant, but they will strengthen both your physical and emotional connection with your partner.
9. Have frequent family dinners.
Whether it’s just you and your partner, or if you have kids in the mix, having dinner as a family will bring everyone closer. If you do have kids, make sure you schedule one-on-one date nights for the two of you, as well.
10. Trust that this person is The One.
In order for your relationship to last forever, you have to fully, wholeheartedly trust that you made the right choice, even if rough patches arise.
If you don’t trust your decision, you won’t devote your whole heart and soul into the relationship, and it will crumble.
Love is not a series of calculations and checklists. Love requires leaps of faith, confidence in both yourself and your partner and, above all, a belief in its power.
by Alexia LaFata
About the author
Alexia LaFata is a Writer covering culture and lifestyle for Elite Daily. She’s a proud New Jersey native and soon-to-be Boston College graduate, and her work is featured on Thought Catalog and VentureBeat. Stalk her at alexialafata.com.
This article originally appeared on Elite Daily.
Photo credit: Leo Hidalgo/flickr