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Regular expressions of authentic appreciation can act as a booster shot for romantic relationships, says Sara Algoe, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who studies the role of emotions in social interactions. Still, how we show our appreciation matters. Here are a few ways that you can leverage gratitude for maximum feel-good impact.

Notice your partner’s actions.

This might seem like an obvious point, but Algoe notes that stress is a barrier to seeing past ourselves. When we’re preoccupied with work or family drama, we often fail to see that our partner has cleaned the litterbox, paid the bills, or picked up takeout on the way home. Make an effort to pay attention to the things your sweetheart does that support you.

Speak your appreciation.

When you do notice something nice your partner has done, say something. Be specific about whatever it was that got your attention and why it made you happy. For your bond to deepen, your partner needs to know that his or her actions have registered.

Be genuine.

Couples who report the greatest relationship satisfaction say that their partner’s actions make them feel cared for, understood, and valued. So when your half-asleep partner brings you your coffee every morning, with exactly the right amount of cream, that’s a great time to let him know how delighted you really are by his thoughtfulness. Noticing how your partner’s actions reflect the intimacy between you leads naturally to more genuine expressions of thanks.

This was excerpted from “Real Thanks” which was published in December 2014 issue Experience Life magazine.

Courtney
Courtney Helgoe

Courtney Helgoe is the Experience Life features editor.

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