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Kindness, Forgiveness, and Generosity Often Most Meaningful at Home

Kindness, Forgiveness, and Generosity Often Most Meaningful at Home

There's generous as in Melinda and Bill Gates donating billions, or Oprah handing out cars. Then there's generous as in giving your partner a travel mug of fresh coffee and an extra kiss on a morning when you're both late. Marriage experts call that going above and beyond. It's not about grand gestures. It's about small acts of kindness and affection. It's also the key to happy marriages. Thoughtfulness makes your partner light up and gets your insides all sparkly, too.

Every couple instinctively knows that little things make a big difference, but precisely because they are little, it's easy to skip 'em and figure the anniversary cruise makes up for it. Nope. A study emphasizes that two things come with the coffee and kiss: making your spouse happy and taking the time to do it. They're kindness and affection personified.

Generosity is a two-way street, and incredibly powerful. It boosts your partner's sense of being loved and appreciated, and says, "This madness wouldn't be worth it without you."

Generosity is also about forgiveness. When one of you screws up, the other says, "Yeah, it's a mess, but we'll figure it out," rather than flipping out. In one scientist's words (they study love as well as microbes): "Small positive marital acts frequently performed affect marital quality more strongly than large gestures irregularly enacted." Okay, dry researcher talk. But you get it. Here's why holding a grudge is like living with chronic stress.

During these time-pressured, e-mail-cluttered, budget-tense days -- when everyone's juggling tasks faster than Cirque du Soleil spins plates -- hitting pause for a hug or to say, "I found those batteries you needed" is manna for marriages. Sure, sex, commitment, and communication are vital, too. But so is generosity. Go give it.

Make love stronger: Avoid these 3 common marriage mistakes.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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