5 Tips for Keeping a Relationship Fresh

Mind Your Manners

What's that old saying -- "Familiarity breeds contempt"? This may be true for some, but more often, familiarity makes people take each other for granted. In his book, "The 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships," David Niven, PhD, says, "We define our relationships based not on the best days or the worst days but on the average days. Strive to be supportive in average ways on average days, and you will set in place a major building block of a relationship." Indeed, recent research shows that gratitude is associated with satisfaction and happiness in a relationship [source: Woznicki].

One way to be supportive of your partner is to be grateful for the things he or she does for you. Say "thank you" often and sincerely, and say it for even the most mundane things. Holding the door open, passing the sugar and picking up the dry cleaning are more obvious occasions, but what about when your partner cooks dinner or changes the baby's diaper? Be grateful even for the abstract things your partner does, like making you laugh when you're grouchy, remembering just how you like your coffee or putting on the perfect music to soothe your racing mind at the end of a long day. Challenge yourself by expressing gratitude even when you're in the middle of an argument.

The more instances you find to be grateful, the more you become aware of all the tiny acts of love that pass between you and your partner on a regular basis. Just recognizing them will cast a new light on your relationship and ignite a little spark.