1. If you are getting a cup of coffee for yourself, offer to fill his cup too. My sister’s husband actually makes the morning coffee and brings it to her before she even gets up out of bed! Every morning! I know! And guess what? They’ve been happily married for over thirty-five years. Coincidence?

While my brother-in-law is a prince among men, most of us do very well at the breakfast table just by holding the carafe up and asking, “Would you like more coffee?” Even that little gesture of generosity is appreciated. Look for those opportunities throughout the day. “I’m going tot he store. Can I get you anything?” “Let me pick up the kids this time.”

2. Say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’. Contrary to the rumors those words aren’t just for company. Being courteous to those closest to us shouldn’t be so hard. Try sprinkling these magic words more around the house and feel the atmosphere soften.

3. If you think something like, “His butt sure looks cute in those jeans,” or “She is one of the smartest people I know,”say it out loud! Somehow it is so much easier to blurt out the negative criticisms, “Can’t you just once call me if you’re going to be late?”, and hold back on the compliments. Make a little effort to generously reverse the pattern.

4. Surprise your partner with random acts of kindness. Change the dead lightbulb in the closet, empty the dishwasher, change the diaper, before being asked!

5. Smile, touch, laugh without any agenda beyond the moment. Nothing is as generous, or intimate, as a light rub on the shoulder as you pass by or a smile and wink over the kids’ heads as they babble on about their latest exploits. Tiny shared moments like this are as important as nuclear hot sex when it comes to building a happy marriage. Really!!

Tara Parker-Pope wrote ‘Is Generosity Better Than Sex?’ siting research done at the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project. The investigators defined generosity as “the virtue of giving good things to one’s spouse freely and abundantly.” W. Bradford Wilcox, principle investigator, said, “Living that spirit of generosity in a marriage does foster a virtuous cycle that leads to both spouses on average being happier in the marriage.”

It’s not that hard. It just takes a little thoughtfulness to put a good idea into action.


Photo by petalouda62 via Flickr