The other day, I read an article about how one couple changed their entire marriage by asking each other each morning, “How can I make your day better?” Now, I don’t know if this inspirational story is embellished a bit for inspirational purposes, but it certainly seemed to hold an important lesson. Simply valuing your partner’s individual happiness will make for a more functional relationship, comprised of two people who feel loved and display thoughtfulness.

I know Aaron and I have only been married about a year (about 11 months…isn’t that nuts??), but that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned a thing or two about valuing and increasing our love with each day we spend together. We’ve already hit bumps and curveballs along the way– as every newly married couple does in the first months of merging lives. Because of that, we’ve developed tactics of our own to make sure each day keeps getting better– and do they ever! I’ve never experienced a love that grows and grows with time. I literally thought I’d die alone, so the whole thing still feels really unreal.

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When reading the aforementioned article, I thought to myself, What’s mine and Aaron’s thing? What do we do that regularly ensures that we both feel loved and significant? What phrase shapes my marriage? These were the words that kept appearing in my mind:

Thank you.

At least once a day, Aaron and I thank the other person for loving us well, making us proud, being helpful, or simply for existing. On a smaller scale, he thanks me every time I do the dishes or hang a new towel for him in the bathroom. I thank him every time I notice that the Brita is full and when he sets a fresh glass of water on my nightstand each night as I’m getting ready for bed. Basically, all of my needs revolve around water.

The thank yous spur us on to continue appreciating and serving eachother. I like doing his laundry, because I know he appreciates it, which makes him appreciate me. I like forcing him to take a cough drop when he’s sick, because I know he’ll be grateful that I take care of him, which he’ll vocalize 2 minutes after the drop makes his throat feel better. I like coming up with new ways to make his life better, not only because I love him, but because I know he will be thankful. Same thing goes for the flip side. The more I thank him for making the bed or cleaning the kitchen or cooking dinner, the more he does those things. cleaning-gif

The upward spiral of love that accompanies thanking each other is astounding. Fights are fewer. Patience is stronger. Contentment is greater.

And this is why we thank each other for any and everything we can think of. Even as I write this on the couch next to him and our sweet puppy, he looked over and said, “Thanks for being so cute when you write.” It may seem stupid or mushy, but this habit of constantly thanking each other will remain a staple of our relationship if it’s the last thing I/we do. As with any habit, the way it stays a habit is by never slacking. Never skipping. Just continuing forth. If you stop for a week, or even a day, you risk losing the habit altogether. Example: Going to the gym. (I forget what a cardio machine even looks like at this point.)

Each marriage is shaped by unique ways the couple keeps their love alive and active. The overly present “thank yous” in our house makes it our personal signature phrase, but of course there are plenty of other tactics we sprinkle in there to maintain the happiness. Just as “thank yous” may be a secondary– but still important– habit in other homes, we see other couples say, ask, or do things in their marriage more regularly than we do. Spending time around other couples, or reading the article that inspired this post, always sheds light on new ways we can strengthen our unity. Thus, I hope our marriage phrase helps all of you grow in your love, as well!