In the honeymoon stage of a relationship, it's easy (and natural for many) to praise your partner on the regular. Your feelings and emotions are on a high and it seems like the words just pour out of you easily. But, over time, it's normal for things to get a bit stagnant in the romance department, and that includes those loving acknowledgements that once flowed so steadily. That said, little things like words of encouragement for your partner, are crucial to keeping the affection strong with your significant other. That's why it helps to have a few evergreen affirmations in your pocket to shower your person with on the regular.
"Something sad, but too often true is how couples who have been together in long-term relationships tend to forget the importance of compliments," says Tina Konkin, founder of four-day intensive couples retreat Relationship Lifeline. "They not only forget how it feels to receive a kind word; they also forget how it feels to give one. The ability to offer their spouse a healing salve in the form of a gentle, positive affirmation is the power we all possess."
That's not to say these affirmations need to be epic novels or wildly extravagant. No, sometimes the simplest phrase or quick pep talk can work wonders in making your partner feel loved and appreciated. "Our research shows that those who make a genuine effort and successfully complete the challenge, which can include praying as a couple or simply wishing each other well for just five minutes each day, report that their relationships and intimate life improved dramatically," says Konkin.
To drive home her point, the relationship guru references an experiment conducted by IKEA and ad agency Memac Ogilvy Dubai, who wanted to showcase the effects of bullying versus words of affirmation and encouragement. The study used a set of plants that were provided the same amount of sunlight and water. "One of the plants was played recordings that included positive phrases like, 'Seeing you blossom makes me happy,' while the other plant heard only negative phrases like, 'You look rotten,'" says Konkin. "The ad agency reported that after 30 days the plant that listened to positive affirmations remained green and lively, but the plant that was 'bullied' turned brown and began to rot."
While comparing plants and humans is like comparing apples and oranges (or pineapples and almonds!), it's not outrageous to presume similar effects would occur in living breathing human beings. Most people respond positively to positive affirmations and feedback, so why not apply this theory to your relationship?
"Affirming your partner on a regular basis not only makes the other person feel good about himself, but it makes him also want to spend more time in your company," says dating coach Lisa Shield. "We all want to hang around the people who make us feel good about ourselves, right? But even more than that, paying compliments heightens your attraction to your partner because you are choosing to focus on finding the things you like about him or her."
The best time to work these little affirmations in? Probably when your partner least expects it. Yes, it's good to affirm accomplishments and little triumphs. But it's also great to make your S.O. feel special for no reason at all. "In addition to saying 'I love you' on a regular basis, it's important to communicate to your partner specific examples of things they do that you love," says Jeannie Assimos, Chief of Advice, eharmony. "Words of affirmation should accompany any other gesture of love, and specifying what makes you happy will only help to further educate them on what makes them a great partner for you."
When in doubt about what to say, think about what you respond positively to. "All you have to do is think back on the times where your spouse made you feel good, important, loved, appreciated, valued … remember how it made you feel when your spouse smiled with pride or appreciation after you passed on a compliment, or, on your end, how good it felt to hear words like 'thank you for thinking of me today,' or 'did I tell you how much I like those jeans on you,'" says Konkin. "Life changing. No doubt about it."
To help give you a running start, Konkin, Assimos, and Shield all provided some solid phrases you can work into your day-to-day conversations or text messages to your partner. Start talking.