Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s day will soon be upon us! It is a time of year where couples are actively encouraged to demonstrate their love for each other, through PDA’s, buying a nice meal out or making something special for each other.
If my own V-day plans over the past few years have shown anything, it’s that I am a big fan of slightly alternative (though often food related!) celebrations of love. For example, 2014 was the year that we carved roses onto watermelons.
Gestures both great and small on valentines day are lovely and can create memories that last for you to enjoy years later. But one of the biggest criticisms of valentines is that an evening of whirlwind romance is no substitute for showing appreciation for your partner on a regular basis. And it is easier to fall into a trap of taking you’re SO for granted then you might think.
Researchers have found that a good indicator of whether a relationship will last is to analyse the ratio of positive to negative interactions that are exchanged between a couple. Having a higher proportion of negative interactions to positives was a firm predictor of divorce in married couples (Pryor, 1999, pp. 124-25). And the opposite was true of healthy and lasting relationships. So if there are more arguments and accusations between you both than support and appreciation, then it might be time to take a step in a more positive direction.
Negatives should be an occasional thing rather than a constant occurrence. A blip in a generally smooth ride. It has been said that we should aim for 5 positives to 1 negative interactions, the 5:1 ratio rule, to give you that #relationshipgoals bliss that we all crave.
Reinforcing your SO’s behaviour can be as simple as giving a smile. But anyone who has been in a relationship (especially a long-term one!) knows that they can be tough at times.The euphoric high’s of your early days together start to fade a little. You settle into a routine. Before long you can find yourself nagging more than you want to. Even the compliments that you pay each other can start to get too familiar, a bit samey.
So how can you add a bit of variety into the positives that you dish out for your SO?
Here is a fun little idea for you to try out that will work particularly well if they appeal to your partner’s sense of humour!
Stickers designed especially for adults! Bear with me on this one.
For me at least, stickers lost their reinforcing effect when they became boring (plain stars anyone?) or associated with young children (“I don’t want a sticker, they’re for babies!”). But by adding to them a witty and sarcastic commentary on the everyday tasks that we all face as adults, their reinforcing value is multiplied. They satisfy both my inner 5 year old and the cynical adult in me!
If these stickers look like a good idea to share between you and your partner, then that’s great! There are plenty to choose from. You can even get really stuck in and create your own, I would love to know what you can come up with.
Just bare in mind that everyone is different. While you might find that receiving an awesome sticker is extremely reinforcing to your behaviour at the time, they may not have the same strengthening effect on your SO’s behaviour. It is worth experimenting with them to see whether they are an effective form of reinforcement and an extra positive interaction that you can add to your relationship.
Technical Tip: When is the best time to give out a sticker?
If you see your SO doing something awesome, then the best time to let them know is immediately! Live in the moment and let them know right now. Otherwise, you could lessen the reinforcing effect of whatever it is that you are giving out as a consequence (i.e. a witty and hilarious sticker for adults!). You can learn more about using the power of reinforcement to enhance your relationship here.
I really hope that you found this article useful
Please do leave a comment if you dream up a particularly great comment for an awesome adult sticker! Or let me know on my Facebook page.