As helpful as the following relationship tonics are, it is very important to first stop infusing the poison! After all, antidotes work best if the toxins are no longer being administered. Thus, first and foremost, speak no ill. That is no complaining, criticizing, contradicting, and/or controlling. “The four deadly C’s,” or relationship poisons, that can kill just about any loving connection, no matter how strong and intimate it may be.
See my post through this link on “how to poison any relationship.”
Once these lethal toxins are out of your relationship, start adding the healthy elixirs of expressing gratitude, complimenting, small acts of kindness, initiating [nonsexual] affection, and promoting mutually enjoyable activities.
Therefore, make it a point to express your appreciation often, even for small things. Indeed, it’s easy to take a lot for granted and thereby start the pernicious pattern of failing to say “Thank you.” Yet that simple statement when said sincerely is like a deposit of emotional capital into the relationship’s “bank account.” And failing to express gratitude is akin to an automatic service charge that will erode your savings.
Similarly, develop a habit of saying something complimentary to your loved ones on a daily basis. Simple compliments (such as, “I like the way you’ve done your hair,” “That outfit looks good,” “Yum, this chicken tastes great!,” “Good job,” etc.) are easy to say and also add emotional capital.
Small act of kindness are another powerful relationship tonic. Simply doing an extra chore or helping your partner out with one of his or hers; buying a small, unexpected gift or giving a sentimental card; opening or holding a door; getting a drink or a snack; etc. all promote closeness and good feelings. Basically, think of something easy but meaningful you can do to enhance the quality of your partner’s life and then do it. Cha-ching! More emotional capital in the account.
Few acts convey love and promote closeness more than simple gestures of physical affection. A gentle pat, a caress, a hug, kiss, soft squeeze, foot massage, and/or a nuzzle all express warmth and beam straight into the heart of the matter through the channel of pleasant sensations. Indeed, some research has suggested that affectionate touch releases a vital, feel good, brain hormone called oxytocin. (Oxytocin is also released when women are breast feeding thus, it is believed, promoting bonding between mother and infant.) In this context, affection is not necessarily a prelude to sex. But if things end up in a sexual act…well, sex, too, can be some strong medicine!
Last but not least, having fun together is a surefire way to promote good feelings. Not only in the moment of the mutually enjoyable activity, but even afterwards when the fun is recounted or discussed. In essence, so called “coupling activities” are not just emotional capital, but also go into the relationship’s long-term “portfolio” where they can pay dividends for years to come. These activities can be grand – such as a vacation or dinner and a play. But lots of small ones – such as a walk, picnic, movie, game of cards, or listening to music – can add up, too.
So, the formula for optimizing the happiness in a relationship is very simple (but not always easy). First stop poisoning it with the 4 deadly C’s! Then administer steady doses of gratitude, compliments, kindness, affection, and fun.
Remember: Think well, Act well, Feel well, Be well!
Copyright 2017 Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D.
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This post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional assistance or personal mental health treatment by a qualified clinician.