How little things matter in relationship

Small things can often make a big difference in the long run

RUMISA MALIK December 19, 2022
The writer is a journalist based in Karachi. She can be contacted at [email protected]

For as long as there have been couples in love, there have been conflicts in love. Conflicts often lead to more conflicts which lead to more problems in relationships. Anyone who has been in a relationship knows it is pretty much inevitable. So what is it that typically goes wrong where things presumably in a relationship start off pretty well and then something else happens?

When people talk about the problem they have, nobody really knows how to manage it in a way that works successfully. What happens instead is that criticism, contempt, defensiveness and all of these cause much hostility, pain and misunderstanding. Especially during conflicts, people don’t work on how to create positivity in their relationship by expressing appreciation and thanks and asking each other big questions so as to stay in touch. These are some of the issues.

Small things can often make a big difference in the long run. What I mean by small things is recognising when your partner is doing something for your attention or your interest, or realising a deeper need they may have, or learning to respond in a positive way – rather than just ignoring that or turning against them with hostility.

Empathy is also very important in relationships. We have seen that people who really notice what their partner is doing right in a relationship have a much more harmonious relationship than those who don’t notice that. So first of all, there is the need to try and develop the inclination to realise what your partner is doing right rather than just looking for the wrong.

When we hear thank you, we feel appreciated – a kind of warm and loving feeling. We want to do more to get this appreciation. This means creating a cycle to do something right. Your partner says thank you; you appreciate it; you want to do more; you do more that is right. There is more thank you and so on. This serves to lay the foundation of a positive culture within the home.

Unfortunately though, we have a peculiar culture in our society on relationship matters where we expect our partner to be a clone of ourselves. Conversely, it is important to accept your partner as a separate being with different personality traits, lifestyle or preferences and see how their different take on issues enriches the relationship.

Another very important thing is conversation among the couples or rather the lack thereof. According to a study, couples only talk to each other hardly for an hour during a week. And most of the conversation is about checklists. Have you called the plumber? Have you attended the parent-teacher meeting? So what happens after a while is that the married life gets boring, even turning into a tragedy in a number of cases. There is thus the need to grab the first opportunity of catching up with each other to discuss things like how the week went by, what where the highlights and what were the lowlights, making more emotional communication with one another. Without being interrupted by the routine to-do list and keeping up with one another serve as an opportunity to know more and more about each other.

Focusing on one’s own behaviour – and the hows and whys of it – is also a much-needed element in the relationship. This helps one to mend their ways, like manage the anger or avoid undue criticism of the partner, and the stuff.

Expressing ones rightful needs is also very important i.e. telling your partner how they can shine for you. Tell them what you want them to do. Remember, people really care about the rightful needs.

Touch is something that is deeply needed. It’s all but natural, it’s all but human to want cuddling, affection – and romance. This is scientifically proven that touch is not just the warmth, it’s what releases oxytocin – a hormone that plays a role in social bonding. So hugging somebody for, say, 20 seconds serves as healthy dose of this wonderful bonding hormone running through the bodies, making them feel better, warmer and more affectionate. Touch reduces depression and anxiety and creates more bounding and more joy in the relationship. So why not touch?

These are the little things that really matter – much more important than we realise.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2022.

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