Everyone loves being treated to an indulgent gift by his or her partner: a lusted after handbag, piece of jewellery or even a favourite dessert. However, a recent study by charity OnePlusOne revealed that those large, grandiose gestures are not the ones we cherish most. In fact, nothing says, "I love you", more than small, thoughtful everyday things like making your partner a cup of tea.
Last week, the Department of Education launched the campaign Love Nuggets on the website lovenuggets.com. The website's slogan is "Everyday things that people do to make a relationship happy", and it states that "regular small acts of kindness such as taking your partner a cup of tea in bed can lead to a happier, healthier and stronger relationship, even more than big gestures like chocolates or expensive holidays".
Costing the taxpayer £45,000, it is part of a wider £3 million government funded scheme to support relationships. With grim statistics showing 42 per cent of marriages end in divorce, and the cost of family breakdown is now at £46 billion, it seems something has to change.
Launched as a pilot to the main scheme, Love Nuggets compiles small pieces of everyday advice, all supplied by members of the pubic, on how to show your partner that you care. The 'smaller is better' attitude is gleaned from Enduring Love, a research project carried out by the Open University, in partnership with dad.com, netmums and thesite.org.
An online questionnaire carried out by 4,494 people, the study found that for a relationship to work it is good to: say it, show it, do it. Which translates into many cups of tea, foot massages, and notes in the lunchbox. There goes the Louboutins, then.
The research also discovered that those with emotional intelligence had the most successful relationships, which means that you have to adapt your 'love nugget' to suit your partner. Also, it stresses the '6 Cs': connect, commitment, communication, care, compromise and resolving conflicts.
All the 'love nuggets' offered on the site have been provided by members of the public, who have been encouraged to contribute tips on twitter using #lovenuggets. They are varied and wide ranging, from the saucy, "we take a shower or bath together", to the thoughtful "we resolve conflicts before going to bed", to the soppy, "we share a kiss before we sit down at the dinner table to eat".
Despite its tongue in cheek nature, and critics labelling the scheme "bizarre, touchy feely didacticism" I think the underlying research and scientific findings seem sound. I'm certainly partial to the odd surprise trip to the Caribbean, however I think that it often is the small, everyday gestures that can keep a relationship strong. Why not offer people advice on how to show their partners they care. Sometimes these things are not as obvious as they may seem.
Oh, and one more thing. It may have paid for the creators to have quickly Googled the term 'love nuggets'. One look at the Urban Dictionary, and it ain't just about cups of tea, that's for sure.