Years down the line, it's not the expensive jewelry or sweet cards you'll remember, but the special moments you spent by each other's side.
When you get caught up in the pressure of buying your partner the perfect gift, you might sometimes forget that what truly matters is not how bright those freshly cut flowers are or how the crystal vase you buy them will sit wonderfully in the middle of your living room. Flowers will eventually wilt away and the novelty of anything expensive you buy will wear off over time. But the rush they feel when you take them out on an adventure, or the thrill of watching their favorite band perform live is something they will never forget. And that is exactly what makes relationships stronger, according to a study, published in Journal of Consumer Research and on Oxford Academic.
When you share a memorable experience with the one you love, you'll talk about it long after it's over and fondly look back at the memories that you both shared. And more than filling your relationship with special and romantic moments, research also suggests that experiences can make your relationship stronger than material gifts can.
When you're confused about what to gift your partner, don't turn to columns or magazines for gift ideas. A study published on in the Journal of Consumer Research (JCR) gave the most concrete advice in their conclusion, which was "to make your friend, spouse, or family member feel closer to you, give an experience."
The study found that people who gave gifts to "foster closer relationships" are more likely to be successful when they give experiential gifts instead of material gifts.
"An experiential gift elicits a strong emotional response when a recipient consumes it -- like the fear and awe of a safari adventure, the excitement of a rock concert or the calmness of a spa -- and is more intensely emotional than a material possession," said Cindy Chan, assistant professor at University of Toronto Scarborough's Department of Management and the Rotman School of Management, who was part of the study, according to Science Daily.
This could mean that it's not the money your partner soends on the gift for you that matters, but the thought they put into it. When they know that there's something new you have been dying to try and they secretly book tickets for the two of you or they take the time out to indulge in your favorite hobby, it's likely that those gifts will make you both feel closer in the relationship.
When the spark of a new relationship fades, what keeps you both together months and years down the line is the memories of the experiences you share together. And taking the effort to strengthen the bond paves the way for a long-lasting relationship.
When you and your partner step out of your typical routine to try a new experience, you feel more satisfied in the relationship. "It doesn't have to be an expensive or complicated activity, just something outside of your normal routine," said Ayo Gathing, M.D., psychiatrist, relationship expert, according to Redbook.
Even planning a romantic getaway with your partner for the weekend where you can hold each other's hand and walk across a beach can add that extra bit of excitment to your relationship. "Besides providing much-needed time away, taking a break from your surroundings returns you refreshed, invigorated, and likely hopeful that you can establish new patterns that help you avoid getting sucked into the hum-drum of everyday living," said Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, a clinical professional counselor.
As decades go by, when you and your partner look back at all the wonderful years that you spend by each other's side, you know that what kept you together weren't the valentine's day cars or the expensive jewelry that you gifted each other, but the little things that you did together that made you tell yourself that there was nobody else you wanted to spend your days with.