Every morning, like clockwork, I make the bed. It’s part of my a.m. routine, quite frankly, because I love the appearance of it, and it helps me feel organized all day long. It’s the whole: If you do nothing else today, at least you made the bed! But the other morning, when I headed upstairs to get the job done, a surprise: My spouse made the bed for me. My heart swelled.
That’s the very concept behind S.T.O. (which stands for Small Things Often), a mantra developed by the Gottman Institute that carries a lot of weight when it comes to divorce-proofing your marriage.
Per the Gottman Institute—which recently launched a new podcast on the topic—it’s the small gestures in a relationship that add up to long-term success. When my husband made the bed that morning before I could get to it, it wasn’t about checking off a chore. It was him taking a minute to notice a routine that I care about and take it on himself. (Ahem, small things often.)
The good news is that there are so many ways to do small things often and preserve the long-term strength of your partnership. For example, saying “thank you” for daily occurrences you might take for granted (making dinner, taking out the trash, handling school pickup), a kiss hello and goodbye or quite simply a conversation where you ask about their day.