1. Try Something New
Couples that engage in fun activities or have new experiences together are often happier. Studies find that new experiences ignite the brain’s reward system, mimicking the feelings of early romantic love. Novelty in a relationship can mean taking a walk on a new trail or skydiving for the first time, anything as long as the activity is something you both enjoy and can do together.
Instead of planning your thousandth dinner and movie night, try something novel, like a Broadway play that neither of you has seen (although, make sure you get your tickets ahead of time as some shows sell out fast). Not only will the new shared experience bolster your relationship, but the effort put into planning a unique and fun activity will show your partner that you care about his or her interests and about your relationship.
2. Make Sex a Priority
It’s not a new concept, but studies show that the more often a couple has sex, the happier they are. A 2011 research study of over 6,000 married men and women found that 54 percent of men and 42 percent of women were unhappy with the number of times they had sex per week, reports The New York Times. The researchers’ main conclusion was that couples need to talk about their sexual expectations and set aside time for intimacy.
3. Step Away From the Internet
When you are doing something together, make it a point to put away your smartphone and computer. A study from Brigham Young University of couples who lived together found that the majority reported that phones, computers and other technology negatively affect their relationships in a significant way.
Constantly checking your phone while trying to spend quality time together is communicating to your partner that the Internet is more interesting and important than he or she is, even if that is not your intention. The key is not to abandon all technology, but to agree on reasonable expectations for usage and then prioritize time spent together.
4. Learn to Communicate
Most relationship advice can be boiled down to good communication. The Cornell Marriage Advice Project, which was the largest study every done on people in long marriages, found that most problems can be solved through open communication, and conversely that relationships that didn’t work were largely due to a lack of communication.
Communication is not always intuitive, rather it is a skill that can be learned and practiced together. Improving your communication skills can mean doing things like stopping and listening, instead of pushing your point in an argument; being open and honest, even if it means making yourself vulnerable; paying attention to nonverbal signals like folded arms or lack of eye contact; and being OK with losing an argument.