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Dec 2, 2017

In ERP 125: How Kindness Can Strengthen Your Love – Part One, I talked about the article, titled “Masters Of Love,” by Emily Esfahani Smith

The article talked about the key to lasting relationships comes down to kindness and generosity. Based on the research of Gottman and others, “kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage.”

(Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.)

If you are interested in practicing more kindness in your relationship to strengthen your love, download this free pdf. The goal is to choose one kindness action or gesture a day for 25 days.   



When you experience success, an accomplishment or something good, who do you share it with? Are you and your partner able to celebrate the joy and excitement of good news together?

There is something called the “winner’s effect.” When we experience a win of some sort, we get a release of dopamine and testosterone. Dopamine is one of the feel good neurochemicals. The beginning stages of love, romance, and desire are fueled by dopamine along with other neurochemicals like oxytocin.

When we experience a win, positive changes are happening within our chemical makeup and brain structure. We will typically feel more confident, quick witted, and more courageous.

Cognitive neuroscientist Ian Robertson explains “Winning increases the dopamine receptors in the brain, which makes you smarter and more bold.

Sharing these pivotal moments are critical for relationship quality and connection and can be very damaging when they are not shared and celebrated together.

In a psychological study, Will You Be There For Me When Things Go Right, by Shelly Gable and her colleagues, couples were asked to discuss recent positive events from their lives. The purpose of the study was to observe how partners would respond to each other’s good news. They found that, in general, couples responded to each other’s good news in four different ways: passive destructive, active destructive, passive constructive, and active constructive.

The most common response is a passive constructive one, like “That’s nice,” or “Congratulations.” Sometimes couples will receive passive destructive responses such as a flat response or being ignored when sharing good news. On rare occasions, a critical, or active destructive response is given.

In the article, Why You and Your Partner Need to Celebrate Each Other by Linda and Charlie Bloom, they write “What truly enlivens a relationship, though, is an active constructive response, when the person who hears about our success is sincerely happy for us. An active constructive response shows generosity of spirit and eagerness to hear more about the good news. Celebrating triumphs in life, from small, seemingly trivial ones to those that are more significant, strengthens the bond between two people. Being genuinely enthusiastic in responding to a partner’s good fortune can have a positive impact on them.”

“The genuineness and frequency of active positive responses are essential to the development of healthy relationships….When we celebrate each other’s accomplishments, we thrive. We are more likely to be securely bonded to each other, satisfied with our relationship, and enjoy greater love and happiness” by Linda and Charlie Bloom. 


A few days ago, I was meeting with a couple I have been working with for a couple of months. Unfortunately, they are working through some pretty big disconnect. One of the areas where they have experienced a divide is in the way they express and receive love. Stylistically, she is more reflective and introspective, and he is more active and energetic. She was describing a longing to feel his embodied touch and presence. He had no idea what she was talking about.

When you touch your partner, are you present to the moment? Are you focused on the shared connection or are you touching your partner out of habit and routine?

Do you initiate physical contact with your significant other at all? Do you hug, hold hands, kiss?

The other day, my husband wasn’t feeling well. Often times, my first attempt to connect with him is verbal. When he doesn’t engage, I will slow down and try to feel with him. In a more embodied way, I gentle rubbed his lower back, and he opened up to me about where he felt pain and discomfort.

Kind touch reduces stress and tension, and it conversely facilitates more connection and warmth. We are rarely encouraged to give affection and kind touch. It can be easy to forget. Gently touch your partner to let them know you care.

  • High five to celebrate a win.
  • Embrace after a long day.
  • Give a hand or foot massage.
  • Look at your partner with kind eyes.
  • Smile at them.

For some people, being touched with kindness gives them the experience of feeling loved. What ways can you use touch to convey your care and affection to your partner?


Most of us will focus on and pay attention to what we are experiencing in any given moment. It takes a mental leap to put ourselves in our partner’s perspective and think about what they would enjoy.

When someone puts energy and thought into considering what we would like, we feel special and cared about.

When people describe meaningful acts of care from their partner, they often talk about the little things. Small acts of kindness are powerful ways to increase the positivity in your relationship.

  • Remembering what your partner has been up to and asking about how it is going.
  • Bringing up a topic that is important to your partner.
  • Doing something extra to help them feel your support and love.
  • If you partner is having a bad day, maybe pick-up something that they will enjoy.

Being willing to focus on and give attention to your partner’s interests demonstrates your care and that they matter and are important to you.

Demonstrate consideration by doing things that are meaningful to them, like:

  • Being on time.
  • Doing the dishes.
  • Sticking to the budget.

Although these small gestures of kindness and thought can seem insignificant, they provide positive signals that your partner is valued and the relationship is important.

  • Heat up the water for tea.
  • Get a blanket.
  • Get bags out for trip.
  • Buy their favorite beverage.
  • Make their favorite dinner.

Small gestures over time accumulate to strengthen your love and connection as a couple.


Dr. Fred Luskin, ‘Why is it that we treat others with more civility than we do our partners?”

For example, have you ever been in an ugly argument with your significant other, and then in the next moment picked up the phone to answer a call with politeness?

In the beginning stages of love, we tend to take extra care with our manners and grooming. We want to be polite and pleasant to be around. Whereas over time, we can get comfortable, perhaps too comfortable, and lose consideration and manners.

  • Eat with your mouth open.
  • Farting.
  • Interrupting.
  • Complaining.
  • Not being thoughtful about what you say.

Relating to your partner with good manners expresses care, consideration, and appreciation.

  • Please.
  • Thank you.
  • Excuse me.

Often times, couples will get into small arguments because they feel slighted or disrespected.

Being considerate as a couple, shows that you maintain respect for each other. In that we do not take each other for granted, and we appreciate and value one another.

  • Would you be willing?
  • What do you think?
  • Would you be okay if..?

Finally, treating your partner with good manners promotes good will and positivity.


One way to practice kindness is by giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, when it trying to decipher your partner’s intentions. Many times in relationship, we will perceive our partner’s actions and not have enough information to full understand why they did or didn’t do what they did.

John Gottman explains from his research that “disasters” see negativity in their relationship even when it is not there. Whereas “masters” will anticipate that there is a good reason for their partner’s actions, even if it doesn’t appear to make sense at the time.

Yes, it may be difficult to suspend judgment when your partner does something off-putting. However, not jumping to conclusions and not assuming the worst will save a lot of heartache and drama.

If you notice that you sometimes think negatively about your partner’s actions, try being generous when speculating about your partner’s intentions. Most likely, if you took the time to understand what was behind their actions or behavior, it would make sense. Most often, your partner means well, even if their delivery is subpar at times.

If you are interested in practicing more kindness in your relationship to strengthen your love, download this free pdf. The goal is to choose one kindness action or gesture a day for 25 days.   

Stay tuned for the next several tips for building kindness in the upcoming podcast episode. Until then, check out the Connected Couple program to develop happy, lasting love:



Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 128: How Kindness Can Strengthen Your Love – Part Two [Transcript]

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If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.