The original article can be found here at Prevention - Love Actually.
1. Focus on the little things … often
Two weeks ago, Dad emerged from the backyard and gave Mum a flower he’d picked while pottering around. The gesture lasted only a few seconds, and he made it without fanfare or fuss, but you could see the appreciation on Mum’s face. From this and other exchanges I’ve witnessed countless times before, I’ve learned to anticipate my own partner’s needs and remember the little things. One of the best ways to communicate love is by making considerate predictions about what your loved one appreciates (a latte at 3 pm on a Sunday, for example) and making a mental note to take care of whatever that may be. It’s about simple signs of caring and thoughtfulness.
2. Have the courage to spend time apart
Although Mum and Dad really enjoy each other’s company, they have never avoided time apart. One year, Dad travelled to Scotland for three months with my grandfather. Another time, Mum moved to another country (six months before my dad joined her) to take up a new job. When they have the odd week or weekend apart, it’s not a problem. The thing that impresses me most is that they’ve always chosen to do this and that their marriage doesn’t mean being permanently joined at the hip. In fact, I’ve found that making decisions like this brings my wife and I closer together. We do what we need to do. We trust ourselves to deal with it. And when we come back together, it feels great.
3. Take an interest in each other’s interests
My mum loves oil painting and local government. For my dad, it’s astronomy and the bagpipes. I’ve noticed that they consistently value and support each other’s hobbies and try to learn something from them. Importantly, whenever one’s passions have dominated the other’s (such as when Mum was a city councillor), they found a way to restore balance and practise some give and take. Occasionally, they’ve even found ways to merge their interests—like the time Mum painted the Milky Way for Dad! When we genuinely pay attention to our partners’ interests, it sends a powerful message that we respect who they are and care about what makes them happy.