True or false: When you first met your significant other, you couldn't stop the niceties and compliments from leaving your mouth. Our guess is this is true. When he or she could seemingly do no wrong, what's not to love and list off daily? While it's totally normal to settle into your relationship and realize your partner isn't perfect (who is?), the complimenting you did in the beginning shouldn't totally taper off, experts say. "Compliments are an important aspect of maintaining a happy relationship," says Kat Van Kirk, Ph.D., marriage, family, and sex therapist. "They can help remind both partners about what is working in their relationship and can be viewed as a form of gratitude, investing in the relationship, and building good will."
We all want to feel loved and liked by our partners—that is the goal after all!—but with life stressors like work, finances, children, and health issues constantly cropping up, we may forget how important it is to show this through actions and words. Here are some compliments that just might make your partner's ears perk up.
"You look so handsome/beautiful."
It might sound insignificant—of course you think your partner is attractive!—but if you're not saying it or showing it on the regular, he or she might start to forget that you really feel that way. A quick fix? Say it. "Being reinforced as attractive by your partner is a way to confirm that you both still desire one another," says Dr. Van Kirk. She adds that this should go beyond a simple response to, "How do I look in this?" You should try to acknowledge even the small things. "Everything from 'You look great in those jeans' to 'I love how your hair catches the light' or even 'Your skin feels amazing' can really help bolster attraction."
"I would still choose you."
Bold? Yes. Sounding a little like it came out of a rom-com? Maybe. But experts say that this type of affirmation to your significant other can go a long way. "This is a compliment that informs your partner about how the relationship is going," explains Terri Orbuch Ph.D., relationship expert and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great. "The words are affirming, nurturing, and appreciative." It is also a reminder that you are renewing your commitment to the relationship, she adds. You always have a choice, and you choose to stay.
"Thank you for helping me with _______."
Whether it's starting a few extra loads of laundry or making sure not to leave dishes in the sink overnight, we all ask our partners to pitch in—especially when you live together. When your partner does step up to the plate and helps out in the way you've been asking, be sure to acknowledge it verbally. "This shows you're paying attention to the particulars of your partner's life, that he or she matters and that you appreciate him or her," explains Dr. Orbuch. "Sometimes this can be a small act that your partner has changed or is doing, but you're noticing can make your partner feel special and that their hard work and actions are paying off."
"You're the best friend/lover/partner."
One of these is likely true if you married this person, so why not tell him or her when you feel the sentiment strongly? "Doing so shows your partner that you notice who he or she really is and do not take him or her for granted," says Dr. Orbuch. This compliment makes your partner feel special in the sense that they're being the very best they can at something important to you and your relationship.
"I'm here for you."
Being in a long-term relationship or marriage means you'll each experience several growth spurts in your professional and private lives. You'll watch each other change and go through both happy and hard times. Though it can be scary, and may even threaten the stability of your courtship, it's important to let your partner know that you're there. "We are not static individuals in long-term relationships," explains Dr. Van Kirk. "Rather than boxing our partners in to who we think they should be, supporting our partner in his or her own personal growth is important." Doing so, she notes, can also foster less co-dependence and strengthen individual identities leading to higher relationship satisfaction.