We can borrow from our everyday business encounters and adapt and apply the care we receive to our personal relationships. For example: waiters and waitresses who provide superior service receive more generous tips, and often not because of their efficiency, but for how they make us feel.
If they fill our water glasses without being asked, we feel their care even if we didn’t notice it until we need a drink. When they notice that we need an extra napkin, or a clean fork to replace the one we dropped on the floor but couldn’t reach under the table, we feel they are looking out for us.
When they take our order in a timely way, especially when we are in a hurry, and then keep us informed of the kitchen’s progress, we know they are thinking about us. We reward these and other caring actions even though they may lie outside of our conscious awareness.
Waitresses improved their tips merely by being more personal, one study showed. Customers rewarded them for smiling more often and for caring gestures such as lightly touching the customer’s shoulder or the back of their hand while taking an order, serving a dish, or asking if they can do anything else before walking away.
We don’t have to leave a tip under our plates at home, but whoever makes dinner or does the dishes deserves a kiss on the cheek, a pat on the butt, or some other outward show of appreciation. Whatever we can do to show that we care about each other will bring meaning to our relationships and prevent the routine of the "business side of marriage" from numbing us down.