Put the phone downiStock/svetikd
Spending time alone with your partner? Ditch your phone. "Putting your phone away is a hard habit to break for couples, who are busy and need to stay up on work and family," says Cherie Burbach, author of Art and Faith: Mixed Media Art With a Faith-Filled Message, who writes about listening and friendship at About.com. "But if you can do it, you'll completely change how and your spouse are able to bond." You shouldn't be scrolling through Facebook during date night. "When your phones and other distractions are out of sight, you can focus on conversation with your spouse, including everything he isn't saying directly," says Burbach. "You'll catch the sighs or eye rolls, see pain or frustration. And this will help you understand exactly where he's coming from. When he feels 'heard' on this level, it makes the bond you have even stronger." These are signs you're too addicted to your phone.
Schedule a sexy weekend staycationiStock/PeopleImages
Intimacy can fall by the wayside when we get busy, but it's important for couples to have an active and satisfying sex life. Hire a babysitter or recruit the grandparents to watch the kids for the weekend or the day. "Weekends tend to slip away if you don't schedule, structure, and reserve them in advance," says April Masini, a New York-based relationship and etiquette expert. "Long-term relationships require a little planning to get sexy. And without the social structure of dating, if you don't schedule those romantic weekends, they'll slip away, unused." If your sex life has become particularly lackluster, revive it by changing venues or positions. Here are 7 ways to make sex great again.
You don't just have to volunteer your time around the holidays; charitable organizations need help all year long. "Creating new positive memories is fundamental to a successful relationship," says Justin A. D'Arienzo, PsyD, ABPP, a board-certified clinical psychologist and relationship expert at D'Arienzo Psychological Group in Jacksonville, Florida. "The sense of satisfaction or heightened emotion of service work will certainly add to the new memory shared together." So instead of yet another movie date, focus on someone else by giving back at a soup kitchen or bringing a box of canned goods to the local food bank. You'll get to spend time together as you do something good for the less fortunate.
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Stop nagging him to pick his socks up off the flooriStock/PeopleImages
Be more understanding of your partner's faults and let the little things slide—no one wants a partner who nags. Before you get at him for leaving dishes in the sink, ask yourself if it's worth the argument or if you're just being petty and nitpicky. "Consider this: There is probably something you're doing that irritates him too," says Burbach. Instead, pick your battles, saving them for when you have a serious beef with your partner. "Nagging can quickly lead to power struggles, which wears on the relationship and leads to resentment," says Antonia Hall, MA, a psychologist, relationship expert, and author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life. She says to remember that your relationship is more important than the dishes getting done or the lawn being mowed.
Ask her about that big project at workiStock/Jacoblund
Do you smile and nod as your partner tells you about her latest project at the office? Resolve to show more interest in her work and hobbies. "We all want to feel valued, especially to our partners. You'll be amazed by how far discussing important experiences gets you," says Tracey Steinberg, a dateologist and author of Flirt For Fun & Meet THE One. Notice if she's reading a new magazine and comment on it. She'll be pleased you're inquiring about what's important to her. "The best way to keep your connection strong is to give her your full attention while she shares what she cares about with you," says Steinberg. Here are 15 signs your relationship is solid as a rock.
Take a solo piano lessoniStock/eriyalim
It's important to find happiness outside of your relationship. You'll be more appealing by having your own life and doing your own thing from time to time. Do something that makes you happy, you've always wanted to do, or that you haven't done in a while. Take an art class or learn ballroom dancing. You'll bring more to your relationship by having interests that are separate from one another. "When you realize that there's no dress rehearsal in life, and in this case, no better time than the present, you'll use the new year as that push," says Masini. "Resolve to start those lessons. And if someone dear asks what you want for the holidays, tell him piano lessons! It's a much more meaningful gift than a sweater or some truffles."
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Go rock climbing or do something that she's been begging to doiStock/nullplus
Accompany her on something that you've been dreading and putting on the back burner. Maybe she's been asking you to go dancing or to try that new ethnic restaurant in town. Just stop repeatedly declining and denying her request to do the activity. You'll get more in return if you're willing to give more. "The reasons you've been saying no are probably not as strong as the happiness you'll get when you tell him yes, and she thinks you're the best partner in the world for taking this adventure with her," says Masini. And straying outside your daily rut and comfort zone can bring you closer and prevent your relationship from getting boring. "If you say no more than you say yes, this is a great opportunity to resolve to change that," says Masini.
Say thank you a lotiStock/gilaxia
Express gratitude and appreciation for what your partner does for you. It can be easy to overlook or take all the good things someone does for granted when you see him day in and day out."It's strange how we sometimes thank strangers more than loved ones," says Andrea Syrtash, author of He's Just Not Your Type (And That's a Good Thing). "Don't undermine the power of gratitude and acknowledgment. It's part of the secret sauce to people feeling valued in relationships." Praise the positives instead of focusing on the negatives. By making your partner feel happy and show you value what he does, you'll feel good undoubtedly, too. He can never be showered with enough thank yous. And guess what? "It's contagious," says Masini. "When you start complimenting and thanking someone, you'll soon find that he'll start doing the same to you." Here are more tiny ways to make your partner feel loved.
Ditch the takeout pizza and whip up a big saladiStock/Izusek
Sure, it's easy to grab the takeout menu and eat overpriced Chinese food on the sofa as you binge watch Orange Is the New Black. But unhealthy eating isn't a good habit. It packs on the pounds and spends more money than necessary. Next time, dust off your cookbooks or click around on websites and whip up a healthy recipe. "A mutual commitment to healthy living can be a wonderful bonding experience," says Hall. "Finding and making new recipes together can be a fun way to expand intimacy. Making positive changes together helps nourish each of you individually as well as the relationship." Here are subtle ways to help your partner lose weight if he or she kinda needs to.
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Listen when you're asked to empty the dishwasheriStock/AlexRaths
Resolve to be a better listener and pitch in when needed. "Being a team player is a really important skill to have in a healthy relationship," says Lisa Hochberger, M.ED, a sexologist, sexuality educator, and relationship expert. "This will show your partner that you care about his well-being and happiness and that you want to make his life easier wherever you can." If he asks you to do him a favor, try to do it instead of being defensive, says Hochberger. "When you've been married a long time, a simple request can feel like nagging," says Burbach. "By responding with something as simple as 'Sure,' and then asking what else needs to be done, you'll make your spouse feel like you're both on the same team," says Burbach. Get more tips on how to be a better listener.
Run a race togetheriStock/d3000
It doesn't have to be a 26.2-miler, but consider training for a race or working out together. "Taking on a life goal or challenge like a marathon can be an incredible bonding experience in a relationship," says Hall. "It will spark your mutual desire to cultivate healthier habits, which when done together can deeply strengthen the partnership. Overcoming a milestone like a marathon together will be an epic adventure you'll both be proud of for years to come." It's a great way to improve your health and connect with one another. If you have kids and can't train without them, push them in the jogging stroller as you run around the neighborhood. Or take advantage of the gym's babysitting.
Befriend a new coupleiStock/zoranm
It can be difficult to find four people who all get along well together. But you can only hang out with your high school bestie and her hubby so often. Consider making a double date with that woman from the PTA who you organized the book fair with or that couple you always speak to at soccer practice. Creating a new friendship will allow you to build some mutual friendships and add some variety date night. "Making friends with a couple can strengthen the feeling of partnership as well as increase attraction for one's partner," says Hall. "Having another couple to do things with gives you both support from like-minded people who understand the challenges that relationships can offer." Too tough to schedule a sitter? Have the couple and their kids over for a barbecue or pizza.
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