Appreciate Your Partner for a Stronger Relationship

One of the best “side effects” of working as a sex and relationship educator is the regular opportunity to reflect on my relationship. As my clients share their sex and relationship struggles, I’m given the gift of looking at my own relationship and seeing both how we successfully navigate them and where we can improve as a couple. Appreciation is one of those areas for reflection and improvement. Here’s what I’ve learned about how important it is to appreciate your partner, loudly.

Appreciation helps you create the right context for great sex

Most of what makes your sex life great has nothing to do with what goes where or how you get it on. Intimate, exciting, and fulfilling sex happens when you create the right context. For most this context is:

  • Low stress
  • High trust
  • High affection

Showing your partner that you appreciate them is relevant to all of these, especially the affection piece.

Read more: The Only 3 Things You Need to Have Better Sex

Appreciation counteracts criticism, bickering, and taking advantage

It’s common for couples in committed relationships to take each other for granted. You get into your rhythms and routines and overtures of love and appreciation fall away. Along with this often comes increasing criticism and bickering. Both destroy intimacy.

Expressing your appreciation counteracts that. It says, “I see you.” And, isn’t that we all want the most—to be seen and acknowledged?

How to appreciate your partner

Showing appreciation—like expressing love—works best when you do it in a “language” they best understand and, well, appreciate. If you and your beau(s) haven’t already taken the Love Languages test, stop and do that now.

Here’s how to best show your beau(s) you appreciate them.

WORDS OF AFFIRMATION

Send texts, emails, letters, voice memos, videos, social media posts, and verbal thank you’s.

Just. Keep. Telling. Them. Use any and all the modalities, especially the ones that they’re on (so they’ll see it) or ones that are outdated (because it’s special and took extra thought and care). You can also send them articles that remind you of them.

Oh and when fighting, don’t use sarcastic “oh, well thank you!” as ammunition.

Read more: How to Ask for What You Want in Bed

Physical Touch

Practice warm hellos and goodbyes.

This idea comes from Gretchen Rubin. My clients who implement it see an immediate change in their intimacy, stress levels, and relationship. It goes like this:

Whenever you part ways or reunite, take a full minute to hug and kiss. Why a minute? It’s long enough that your  brain releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone that gives you those “awww, I love you so much!” feels, and makes it feels special. It’s short enough that you can squeeze it into the busiest of days.

Read more: 13 Relationship Agreements for More Pleasure

ACTS OF SERVICE

Look at their calendar and surprise them with something nice on a busy day.

Do extra housework (e.g. cook and do the dishes; bring their car in to be serviced; etc), give them a back or foot massage without expecting anything in return, or run an errand for them (just make sure to communicate so that they don’t then waste their time doing the same errand only to find out it’s been completed).

Read more: 21 Intimate Ideas for Couples to Instantly Reconnect

GIFTS

Buy or make them a token of your appreciation.

These gifts can be grand or simple gestures, experiences or goods. Spa days are great, and so is cleaning the tub and making some at home bath bombs. Going on a trip rocks, and so does receiving cozy socks in the winter. Bonus points if the gift helps you create even more of the right context like reducing stress or increasing trust as well.

Read more: Last Minute Romantic Gifts for Your Beau

QUALITY TIME

Block off time to spend, sans phones, just the two of you.

This can be daily for 30 minutes  at the dinner table, weekly for part of a designated time and day, or sporadically taking a full day to bask in each other’s company. During this time, relish being together and having to say, “I don’t know!” when you don’t know something and can’t rely on your hand computer to look it up.

Read more: How to Connect With Your Partner at the End of the Day

Appreciation changes how you act

Your thoughts, feelings, and actions are interconnected: you feel the way you act and you act the way you feel. This means when treat your partner with warmth and love, you feel more connected to, grateful for, and affectionate towards them.

This strategy also works for thoughts. The more you think grateful, loving thoughts, the more you’ll feel and act that way too!

This doesn’t mean you’ll never argue, get into rut, or take each other for granted again. It does mean both that those things are less likely to happen and also that when they do, you navigate them more easily.

Appreciation also makes great foreplay

Though most people think of foreplay as only being physical, it encompasses anything that gets you and your sweetie in the mood. Think: intellectually-stimulating conversation, a solo bath (with wine obviously), or showing your partner you appreciate them.

Here are some ideas to use appreciation as foreplay:

  • Tell your partner how much you love that part of their body. You know, the one that drives them wild.
  • Give them a detailed description of what you want to do to your favorite body part of theirs.
  • Appreciate their body with kisses, strokes, licks, sucks, and murmured words of endearment.

Read more: Mindful Sex Techniques

Appreciating your partner uplifts everyone

Doing so brightens up your partner’s day and yours—and allows for deeper connection and more intimacy to boot. So what are you waiting for? Go appreciate your partner.

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