Parents’ words and actions teach kids how to show interest and express love, and demonstrate what it means to be in a committed relationship. “Keeping things simple is often the way to teach the most complicated things,” says Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and Coupled Up.
Showing your love through simple, everyday actions teaches kids the skills they will need to build healthy romantic relationships, as well as strengthen your own relationship. Read on for 12 tried-and-true ways to refresh your relationship and show kids what real love looks like.
- Spend time together. Kids need to see parents collaborate, negotiate and just hang out together.
- Listen. Set aside distractions when your spouse wants to talk.
- Picture it. Images of your wedding and fun times you’ve shared remind kids that you are a couple, not just parents.
- Take note. Write a love note to your spouse, and let your kids see you gush.
- Say it. You love your partner and he knows it. But how often do you say those three little words?
- Give gifts. Don’t wait until your partner’s birthday to give a token of affection. Gifts are more meaningful when they’re unexpected.
- Serve gladly. Helpful actions are daily ways to show we care. Point out acts of service your partner does for you so the kids know kindness flows both ways.
- Hold hands. Physical affection doesn’t have to be R-rated.
- Make compliments. Tell your spouse, in front of the kids, what you appreciate about him.
- Apologize. Respond to disagreements or mistakes with a genuine apology.
- Open up. Remember the conversations you had before you had kids? Commit just an hour a week over coffee or cocktails to talk.
- Be grateful. Acknowledging ways your partner enriches your life tunes you in to what’s good in your marriage and makes love grow.