1) I love you. It’s simple, easy, and true. It forces the person saying it to remember it, and to think about why it’s true, and it makes the person hearing it feel good. My partner and I make a point of saying it every day, even if we have to say it through gritted teeth or tears.
2) We can work this out. If you’re having an argument, it’s important for all parties to know you’re both willing to put in the work to get through it.
3) I appreciate it when you _____. Be sincere, not sarcastic. It’s easy to take our significant others for granted, and it’s easy to make them feel like they’re not.
4) I want you to be happy about the way you look. Because really, isn’t that what’s important? If your partner is happy about themselves, you’ll be happier about them. If your partner genuinely has body image issues, it’s something you have to acknowledge and work on together.
5) Thank you. Politeness doesn’t end at the doorstep. Even if your own house, common courtesy of please and thank you goes a long way. Last night my partner and I made a point of making the other one say ‘please’ to do something around the house we were both happy to do anyway. But saying thank you is another easy, sincere way to make a partner feel valued. Even if it’s something that’s a chore, that you always do, that you demanded your partner do once, say thank you. You lose nothing by saying please and thank you.
6) I was wrong / I’m sorry. Look, I’m right almost all the time. Like, always. But sometimes, I am wrong (crazy, right?). I may also have a slight problem with perfectionism and staying humble. But I know nothing makes my partner feel validated like me admitting I made a mistake. There’s a line here, though. If you find yourself apologizing for yourself too often, you may be on the bad end of a relationship where rights and wrongs aren’t shared and where you aren’t validated.
7) Can I ____? You shouldn’t have to ask permission to go to the bathroom. Or buy a shirt. Or make plans with friends. But to post relationship details on facebook? Or tell a close friend an intimate detail about your partner? Be sure to have your reasons ready, and give your partner time to explain their side to you if they are uncomfortable with it. And remember us introverts needs time to think through these things and put together an argument. Social media is not a place for vetting relationship secrets or disagreements.
8) I am hurting. I don’t mean complain all the time. I mean admit when you’re going through a hard section of your life. Your partner wants to know. And if you don’t tell them what’s hurting, they might interpret it as a problem with them. Partners are there to help each other get through the hard parts of life. Let them know you need them.
9) We’re good together. Because if you’re not, what’s the point? Move on.
10) Don’t be a dick / You’re being rude. Because we all need to be brought back down to earth sometimes, and be called out for just not being nice to other people. Whether it’s our partners, our friends, or complete strangers on the receiving end of our unpleasantness, it’s the partner’s job to tell us. Sorry sweetie