Gifts from the Heart

Give your relationship gifts that keep on giving.

Give your relationship gifts that keep on giving.

Give your relationship gifts that keep on giving.

Gifts from the heart

It’s tempting to think the way to your partner’s heart is through finding the perfect gift with an expensive price tag. However, you can bring them joy with simple gestures that will truly show how much you care. Also, the best part is that they don’t have to cost you a dime.

Give to your Emotional Bank Account

Rather than putting a strain on your financial bank account, make a deposit into your Emotional Bank Account. Each time a couple turns toward each other, they fund their Emotional Bank Account. This creates a cushion for when times of increased stress or conflict. 

Ask them how their day was and listen to their answer.  Find out what’s causing them stress lately, and don’t immediately try to problem-solve. Be affectionate and playful, and join them in a flight of fancy. 

Give wonder

As an adult, it can be easy to lose sight of the wonder when you’re the one creating it. What if you seized those opportunities to be childlike and playful? Here are some practical ideas:

  • Build a snowperson
  • Take a tour of the lights in your neighborhood
  • Decorate your home
  • Share your favorite movie from your childhood
  • Hide something for your partner to find on a “treasure hunt”

Give a kiss

Do you have six seconds to spare? The Gottmans call the six-second kiss a “kiss with potential.” It can help warm you up, especially when you feel like romantic embers have cooled over time. Instead of the old peck on the lips out of habit, let at least one of your hello/goodbye kisses linger.

Give a hug

What is your partner’s favorite way to be hugged? What is yours? Take some time to think about what feels best for you. Maybe it’s a side hug as a greeting, a “heart hug,” or a hug that lasts a long time.

Opening up a dialogue about your preferences and what feels good to each of you is a key component in enjoying physical intimacy.  So, give your partner the gift of affection on their terms.

Give the acceptance of your partner’s influence

We all know conflict is inevitable, but you have a choice in how you react to keep a disagreement from blowing up into a war. One way is to give your partner the gift of accepting their influence. Next time you find yourself at odds with each other, take time to hear their side. Ask open-ended questions about their perspective on the matter. Then, be intentional about weighing their thoughts and concerns in your decision. They will feel like you listen to them and care about them, and you may find the solution to a problem that you never considered.

Communicate better in your relationship

Give self-soothing 

One of the greatest gifts you can give your partner is the ability to take care of yourself and self-soothe when you are feeling flooded.  Practice self-soothing in moments when you are less distressed so that you can draw from that skill when you become overwhelmed.

  • Take deep breaths. Focus on the air going in and out.
  • Do a body scan. Notice where you feel tense in your body and breathe into those places to relax them. Being aware of the tension you keep in your brow, jaw, and shoulders might be a good place to start.
  • Imagine a place that makes you feel at ease. What are the sounds, smells, and sensations that accompany that place?

When you can talk to your partner with less tension and stress weighing you down, you can have better and more productive conversations. That’s a gift anyone would be grateful to receive!

Give love songs

What would the soundtrack to your love story sound like? Would it include a song that played on your first date? The first song you danced to? A song that could have been written about your relationship?

Make your partner a love playlist. It can include songs that remind you of them, songs that are special to your relationship, or songs that express how you feel.

You may even want to make a playlist together. As you listen to it, share with your partner why you chose each song.

Give a story 

Ask your partner a question that allows them to share a story or memory.

  • How did you celebrate the holidays when you were growing up?
  • What are your favorite traditions or rituals around this time of year?
  • What rituals would you like us to create and share together?

Stories can be sweet, sad, sentimental, funny, or even painful—but they’re always meaningful. Take the time to share a story and listen to your partner as they share theirs. 

Give your Love Map

What your partner may want more than anything is to know you more. What was your favorite gift that you received as a child? What’s your happiest holiday memory? What makes you nervous or excited? These are all aspects of your inner world, and when you build Love Maps with your partner, they can piece together more of what makes you you

Give time to reflect

Another casualty of the hustle culture is that couples have little time to sit still and think about how far their relationship has come. A gift you can give each other is time intentionally set aside to reflect. What were your favorite moments from the last six months or year? Did you repair well after arguments? What good communication habits from the past do you want to bring into your future together? Talk about the good times and the bad. Reflective conversations can bond you and help create shared meaning.

The gifts that keep on giving

These gifts from the heart are light on the wallet and heavy on the sentiment. So take your time and put these ideas into practice in your own relationship all year long. You will find that the love and happiness between you and your partner will grow no matter the season.

The Gottman Institute’s Editorial Team is composed of staff members who contribute to the Institute’s overall message. It is our mission to reach out to individuals, couples, and families in order to help create and maintain greater love and health in relationships.