The University of Virginia has an ongoing research project on relationships called The National Marriage Project in which they explore statistics pertaining to nearly every element of marriages, and one of their findings reports that generosity is a key factor to a happy marriage.
That fact may overwhelm some individuals who are so busy they feel they have no time to give more to their partner. Today, a lot of couples try to have it all, and there is a lot to have — a social life, a career, a passion project, a thriving online platform, volunteer work. The thought of adding in random acts of kindness for your mate might set you over the edge.
Like with many of the things you’re trying to accomplish in your life, you may find, as time becomes more and more limited, the trick is working smarter not harder. And that’s the same for showing your partner he or she is a priority. With that in mind, here are small ways to show love, even when you’re busy.
Is there something he’s out of that he doesn’t have time to restock for himself? Maybe you see him looking scruffy because he doesn’t have time to buy the razors he likes. Maybe you see him reaching for his multivitamin, only to realize the jar is empty and getting on with his day. It can be a major inconvenience to stop the day to restock these essentials. It’ll mean so much to him if you notice the things he needs, and grab them on your next trip to the store.
Write him a note
No matter how old we get, finding a love note from our beloved never gets old. Whether it’s an inside joke, something sexy you’ll do to him later, or a prayer or poem that you know inspires him, put it on a little note, and sneak it into his briefcase/backpack/laptop case/gym bag/lunch box. Hey, put one in all of those things for a really sweet surprise.
The no phone hour
It’s bizarre to say it, but putting your phone away – like off, turned over, across the room – for somebody is an act of kindness. It’s a way of showing, “I’m all yours. And I’m all ears.” You can say, “At this time, I’m putting away all my devices, and I’m going to be present.” Even if it’s just for 20 minutes, it means a lot.
Book something just for them
Is there something your partner always says he wants to do, that isn’t really your thing? Maybe it’s going whale watching, going to a microbrewery, going rock climbing, or doing something outside the normal realm of date night ideas. Book it. When you have little free time together, you may often wind up compromising and doing something neither of you is that excited about, but both of you are just fine with. Let him have the win. Book the thing that he will be thrilled about and do it with him.
Watch his show
I know, I know. Documentaries about the mafia or tech startups maybe aren’t your thing. Shows about antique cars don’t really do it for you. But, your partner feels close to you when he can teach you something, and when he can share something that matters to him, with you. It’s not about whether or not the show is your thing: it’s about bonding.
Do his chore
If you find yourself with a spare moment and your partner is having a particularly busy week, consider if he has a chore you can do for him. Maybe it’s his week to clean all the towels in the house or go grocery shopping. Do it for him, wanting nothing in return. When you stop approaching chores from a “Whose turn is it?” viewpoint and more from a “How do I make my partner’s life easier” standpoint, you’ll feel more in love. Of course, you both have to approach chores that way for it to work.
Get his car washed/fill up the tank
It’s such a nuisance to do these things. Nobody schedules them. You only notice that you’re out of gas and your car looks horrendous when you’re running late to see someone who will totally judge your car. When your partner isn’t paying attention, grab his keys, and go get his car washed and his tank filled for him.
Make a meal when he’s stressed
Meals can do a lot for our emotions. They combine two of our most nostalgic senses – taste and smell – to transport us to another place in time. What’s a comfort meal for your partner? Make that for him when he’s having just a hell of a week when nothing is going his way. I understand you’re busy too, so, you can also order it for him and support a local small business.
Organize something with his friends
Men aren’t always great at keeping up their own social lives. Women tend to be the calendar keepers. But you know your guy is always so happy after he spends time with his friends. So, get their numbers and organize a boy’s night, for your guy. Plan something for yourself that night, too, so you can give them the place.
Handle a life admin task for him
Is there some life admin task that your partner needs to do but has been putting off? Maybe he really needs to call his insurance company and find out which local doctors take his insurance and make that appointment. But he doesn’t have time to wait on hold and do all of that. So, grab his insurance card and some headphones and do it for him. Giving someone back their time is a huge act of love.
Pick your battles (hint: pick very few)
If you’re both very busy, then the limited free time you have together is precious. That means it’s especially important to get along during it. If you mess it up with a fight, you may not have time to reconnect again for a while. And, for that reason, pick your battles wisely. Let the small stuff slide, like someone leaving their lunch dishes in the sink for half a day.
Hold time for each other
Designate a time that’s just for the two of you every day. Maybe you make sure to always get in bed together, so you can have that quiet time when the world is leaving you alone, and you can cuddle and laugh. Maybe you always FaceTime on your lunch break. Or you go to the gym together. Find pockets of time you can set aside for you two, even if it involves doing regular tasks together.
Sit out your own thing
If you are both so incredibly busy that it’s hard to find time together, one of the kindest things you might do is sit out one of your solo events. It’s important to have your social life, outside of your relationship, but it’s also important to recognize when your relationship needs some TLC. Maybe you don’t have to go to the birthday party of that person who is really just an acquaintance.
Plan something big for later
It can go a long way to plan something big for later, like a trip or a concert. The simple act of sitting down to look up tickets and make reservations doesn’t take long, is fun, and gets you excited just thinking about spending time together. Once it’s booked, you can send each other pictures of places you want to go on the trip and text each other to count down the days until the trip.
Handle something he’s been neglecting
What does he really need to do for his life that he’s been neglecting? Maybe there’s something he’s just struggling to take those first steps towards. Let’s say it’s, for example, researching affordable night classes. Do some research for him. Get some links ready for him. Do a little research into how he can fund them (like loans or scholarships). If there is some task that would really change his life, but that he’s intimidated by, help him get started.