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Homework Assignment: Building a Culture of Appreciation

Small things often go a long way for validating your partner.

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“Masters” of relationships are only human. There are moments when they feel driven to distraction by their partner’s personality flaws. “Masters” of relationships experience conflict and go through times of resentment and absentmindedness. If this is so, then what makes their relationships so successful?

Research from Dr. John Gottman found that happy couples succeed by frequently scanning their environment for ways of appreciating each other.

They show this appreciation through small actions every day that consistently communicate mutual warmth and affection.

It’s the small things often that count

Dr. Gottman explains how to build a culture of appreciation like this: “Notice what your partner is doing right. Catch your partner in the act of doing good stuff!”

Sound easier said than done? Don’t worry. The technique is tried and true. Here’s how it works:

Building a culture of appreciation, fondness, and admiration involves using the things you know about your partner to show that you care and want them to be happy. Positive thoughts invoke positive feelings. The goal is to turn both into positive actions that heal and bring companionship back into your relationship.

Ways to build a culture of appreciation

Here are some simple ways Dr. Gottman suggests for expressing genuine appreciation, admiration, and respect:

  • Express affection
  • Exchange tender touch
  • Kiss one another passionately
  • Give compliments
  • Surprise presents (go for the thought, not the price tag!)
  • Share silly and/or romantic poems
  • Ask, “What can I do next week to make you feel more loved?”

When you notice the little things your partner does and how they make you smile, they feel validated. Validation is a powerful thing. Everyone loves for their actions to be accepted and appreciated.

Find ways throughout your day to validate and affirm your partner. Building a culture of appreciation gives your romance the right environment to grow.


Share, show, and speak your love! Take your relationship off of auto-pilot and shift into loving out loud. In this series of exercises, activities, and videos, Drs. John and Julie Gottman can show you how to love your partner even better. Check out Loving Out Loud and upgrade your relationship today.

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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.

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