Just like grandma’s lasagna recipe, secret sauces can turn something good into something great. But what’s the secret sauce for a healthy relationship? While countless studies exist on what creates strong partnerships, two common ingredients often emerge: graciousness and generosity.
Being gracious in your relationships can come to life in the way you support and validate your partner’s passions. It’s in how you notice and appreciate the small things – like thanking them for doing the dishes, but also giving them a little slack when they don’t because they’re having a tough day.
Generosity can extend beyond gifts. Giving time or small acts of service goes a long way in relationships. In fact, researchers from the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project found that men and women who scored above average in their generosity were “very happy” in their marriages.
To put words into practice, here are a few real-life scenarios and how to approach them with graciousness and generosity. As minor (and sometimes silly) as these situations may seem in the grand scheme of things, little moments like these can have a large impact on the happiness of couples.
You’re annoyed your partner is scrolling through social media instead of watching your favorite show with you.
- Don’t angrily switch the channel or storm out of the room.
- Do hit pause and let your partner understand why you enjoy when you’re both mindfully present when watching TV together. You may be more passionate about that show than your partner, so meet in the middle and identify a show you both like. A recent study found that watching a TV series with your partner correlates to higher quality relationships because it bonds couples over common interests. So, go ahead and binge your favorite show this weekend in the name of love!
You went all out with gifts for your anniversary and your partner got you… a card.
- Don’t keep your love language a secret.
- Do take time to understand each other’s emotional love language: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service or physical touch. Communication comes in many forms, so discovering you and your partner’s lingos will allow you both to be more thoughtful with expressions of love.
You’re trying to set boundaries around bedtime, but your partner is letting the kids stay up to watch “just one more episode” before tucking them in.
- Don’t be bitter for having to be the “bad guy.”
- Do be grateful for the ways your partner is a loving father or mother, but have an open conversation after the kids are asleep to set parenting rules and discuss how you’re going to stick to them – together. If the goal is to get the kids into bed so you can spend more quality time together, let him or her know how important that is to you, and establish a routine that will get you both there.
There are other characteristics that support the foundation of a good relationship (don’t forget about compassion, respect or communication!), but this secret sauce is an important ingredient for the recipe of a GREAT relationship. Discover ways you can be more gracious and generous with your significant other by creating a list of your own real-life scenarios and how you can approach them with these character traits.