There are so many things to do to try to improve a relationship and,
"They all cost money!!!@#$^&!"
I've heard that from so many of the couples I consult with and coach in my office and on the telephone. What a handy excuse! Sure, there are many lovely things to do that have a price tag. BUT, there are so many other things to do to improve a relationship that are absolutely cost free!
Working with a couple lately, it came to me that a good way to describe what most folks think is missing in their marriages as "exclusive companionship." They just want to feel the closeness, the intimacy, safety and security, of having one person they can count on as an affable companion who will always be in their corner and have their back. Women and men have both described to me the terrible feeling of being lonelier in a marriage than they ever felt when they were single. They expected--and rightly so--that their marriage, legal or not, would provide "exclusive companionship."
So, ways to enhance your relationship that are cost free? Begin with appreciation. It is absolutely cost-free and yet it can be given over and over and over with no loss to you. Why we withhold appreciation is a global conundrum, I think. What can it possibly take, beyond the willingness to do so, to catch people doing things right? Or, smiling in a way that makes them feel seen and welcome? Or, touching them on the shoulder as you pass to acknowledge their presence? Or, doing a task that is "supposed" to be done by the other every now and again? Those are all ways of sharing appreciation. You may even be able...oh, come on, you can do it...to collect up a relationship's worth of appreciation and express it:
"I really appreciate you walking through this journey called life with me. I know you could be anywhere else and I'm glad you chose me for exclusive companionship we can both count on and enjoy."
That's not smaltzy even if it may be a little difficult to get out. Try it. If genuine, it is an entirely cost-free way of improving your relationship that is absolutely priceless!
P.S. You may have some wonderfully inventive, cost-free ways of improving and enhancing relationship. I hope you'll share them with other readers in the comments below.