One of the most effective ways to cement our relationship and keep it strong is something incredibly simple that costs almost nothing and is something people have been doing for hundreds of years.
I just write a little note for Sarah and stick it somewhere where she will find it later.
Usually, it’s not a gushy love note. That’s not really something I enjoy writing, and I don’t think Sarah’s a big fan of it, either.
Instead, it’s often just a reminder that I really appreciate all of the things she does for our family. I make sure to point out something specific she’s done recently, too.
For example, if she’s taken an extra step to take care of a household problem, or she’s spent a lot of time helping one of our children deal with a life challenge (two things she’s done very well in the last week or so, might I add), I’ll make sure to specifically mention it in the note.
For us, at the stage of the relationship we’re in, the most powerful way for us to indicate that we love each other is to recognize the efforts the other is putting in, becuase we are, quite frankly, at the busiest phase of our lives. We have three young children, two full-time careers, community responsibilities, and many other things going on.
However, your relationship may thrive on other things. Before we were married or early in our marriage, I might have focused more on Sarah’s beauty or insight (not that I don’t do it now, just that it’s not always the central thing that our relationship needs). You need to focus on what your partner needs to feel good about him- or herself.
So, how can you do this? It can be difficult to tackle this task, particularly if writing doesn’t come easily for you.
The most important thing to remember is that language perfection does not matter. The thing you’re trying to make clear is that you care and that you’re paying attention and that you appreciate your partner.
As I mentioned above, I find it useful to mention something special she’s done recently that I’ve noticed, but it’s also good to mention the routine things as well as attributes of the other person.
Think about the things that your partner does well. What things do they just take care of quietly and without asking? What things about your partner make you feel really good when you think about them? Just write them down. That’s all you have to do.
Then, stick that note somewhere where your partner will discover it. Drop it in a purse. Tuck it in a wallet. Stick it in the console of their car. Let them find it on their own in a day or two.
It’s so simple. It takes a few minutes to do and it’s practically free. Yet it’s a powerful relationship builder, one that will help sustain and mend and grow that connection between you.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “,” which is available and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of , the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.