Once you took pleasure in your partner’s charms. Now, however, you mostly notice his irksome habits, like leaving banana peels on the armrest. Sound familiar?
Your problem: an admiration shortage, one that starves your relationship of love and causes you to become overly critical. “When you admire your spouse, you bathe your brain in mood-elevating chemicals, leading to a more positive relationship,” says couples therapist Vagdevi Meunier, PsyD.
Here, three ways to rekindle affection and bring back that lovin’ feeling.
1. Celebrate your partner’s successes.
When you exclaim, “Wow, that’s fantastic! I’m so happy for you!” instead of “That’s nice—did you take out the trash?” you boost not only your partner’s mood but also your own, shows research from UCLA. Why? Pausing to celebrate his success helps remind you of just how great your partner really is, which gives your feel-good chemicals a lift.
2. Say thanks with a story.
Some gestures of thanks can become so routine, they lose meaning. Adding a personal story, however, helps you mentally reinforce Wow, my partner is awesome. It’s the difference between saying, “Thanks for unloading the dishwasher” and “I felt so loved when I saw that you unloaded the dishwasher to make my morning easier.”