The 1 Little Thing That Makes All the Difference in My Marriage

Marriage is complicated and every relationship is different, but there's one simple thing, in my experience, that makes the biggest difference. It stands out among the many secrets to marriage success — tips about affection, communication, and quality time. So what is it? Well, it's easy . . . and sometimes it's not so easy.

You have to recognize the small ways your partner shows love.

It's obvious, I know, and it seems simple enough, but in practice, you don't always think to acknowledge the little things. All of us show and receive love in different ways, and the day-to-day actions can be easy to miss. To make recognition a priority, here's what you need to do.

1. Step back and think about how your partner expresses himself or herself.

Thanks to my parents, I'm a person who says "I love you" a lot, and although my husband definitely says it too, that's not the main way he shows he cares. In fact, it took years of being together for me to realize that he's an actions-speak-louder-than-words kind of guy and that the most natural way for him to say he loves me is to do things for me. He's all about love as a verb.

2. Acknowledge the little actions every single day.

For a long time, I thought my husband was filling up the gas tank in my car just to get it done, but there's more to it than that. When he takes out the garbage or mows the lawn or buys some artichokes on his way home because he knows they're my favorite, he's doing that to show he cares about me and about us. I used to sometimes let these smaller tasks pass without acknowledgement, but now I make a point to call them out as they happen. Sometimes the recognition is just a simple "thank you," sometimes it's a kiss, and other times I go out of my way to surprise him with a gift or a special dinner and tell him that I appreciate all those times he picked me up from work. And you know what? That gratitude goes a long, long way.

Bottom line? This isn't to say that you need to high five your other half every time they do a load of laundry, but this is a friendly reminder to recognize those everyday acts and let your partner know you feel the love. Even better: you may or may not notice that the more you acknowledge the love, the more they show it, which truly is the ultimate win-win.