They have separate interestsiStock/Martin Dimitrov
“The happiest couples I’ve interviewed say they have a dynamic life together and an active life apart,” says Andrea Syrtash, relationship expert and author of Cheat on Your Husband (With Your Husband). “I think it adds a lot to the relationship when you can come back and share what you’ve done, what you’ve learned. It adds more excitement so you miss each other.” Most Americans are waiting a little later to get married and since many of us had active single lives before we married, we still want those outlets outside of our marriage, says Syrtash. Men and women are still prioritizing their relationships and time with friends, which can help them feel self-expressed when they return home to their partners, she says. Here’s how to stay connected to your partner when you’re apart.
But they also love doing activities togetheriStock/bernardbodo
“Couples who prioritize each other are going to be more connected sexually,” says Syrtash. “It’s tough for us to connect in the bedroom if we’re totally out of touch. You don’t need to spend every waking moment together, but know that your partner is a priority.” If you’ve heard that “couples who sweat together, stay together,” consider physical activity—outside of the bedroom—as a great way to bond with your significant other while also improving your health. Not only does exercise releases endorphins—neurochemicals that make you feel happy—but some research says that after they participated in an activity or challenge together, couples reported feeling more connected and in love with their partner.
They have ‘no-tech’ timeiStock/Dragan Radojevic
Many couples in the digital age can probably relate to a time or two (or, uh, more) when their partner wasn’t paying attention to them while they scrolled Instagram or got sucked into a group text message chain. “I’ve interviewed couples over the years who say they have no time for intimacy, but their tech habits show otherwise,” says Syrtash. “We need digital boundaries to create intimacy.” Your relationship doesn’t just mean spending time together but it means spending quality time together, detached from your devices. Tell each other you’ll put your phones away during date nights and even a few nights a week when you spend time together relaxing at home. These are the 8 most annoying texting habits you have, according to science.
They ‘pencil in’ sexiStock/ridvan_celik
“I can say I’m a fan of scheduling sex, but my phrasing is, ‘Plan to be spontaneous,’ whatever that means to you,” says Syrtash. Sure, putting “Sex on Saturday” on your calendar might look silly and sound like throwing a wet blanket on your love life, but when your schedule is jam-packed and you’re working long hours, it’s a way to make sure it happens. “When you’re overextended you’re not going to find the time unless you make it,” says Syrtash. Look at your calendars to see when the timing works out and plan for then—maybe when the kids are away on Saturday afternoon—rather than waiting to be inspired, says Syrtash. Remember that everything doesn’t have to be structured during sex just because you put aside general time to get intimate. And if the mood strikes one of you before your scheduled session, go for it!
They like making their partner’s life easieriStock/kupicoo
Letting go of some of your own comforts for something that will make your significant other happier (like couch shopping with your wife instead of watching another golf tournament) may improve your relationship satisfaction. A University of Toronto psychologist studied 44 couples (who had been together 11 years on average) to find which attitudes led to the best sexually satisfied couples, according to Susan Kraus Whitborne, on PsychologyToday.com. In relationships characterized by high communal strength (for example, you would be willing to give up the convenience of a relatively short commute to work if by moving a bit further away, your partner would also have a shorter distance to travel), couples reported high levels of relationship happiness. This study shows us that it’s important not to keep a relationship scorecard, especially when it comes to sex. “Be willing to give more than you receive, and it’s possible that both of you will experience sexual happiness for many years to come,” according to the blog.
They feel like a team when it comes to chores and daily life tusslesiStock/SolStock
The misconception is that intimacy starts in the bedroom, and it really doesn’t, says Syrtash. “Regular communication, especially for women, is the glue for relationships.” Staying in touch throughout the day, connecting emotionally, respecting each other—even sharing the housework—all can help you both build intimacy and be more likely to be in the mood for sex. “I find that ‘working as a team’ outside the bedroom translates to what happens in the bedroom with a lot of couples,” says Syrtash.
They don’t let themselves get in a rutiStock/AleksandarNakic
It sounds obvious, but passionate couples mix it up a little, whether that’s time of day, location, position … you get the idea. A lot of couples get into ruts where first the woman does this to the man, and then he does that to her. When you can change up that script a little bit, it’s more exciting. “It doesn’t mean to be mind-blowing, chandelier-swinging sex,” says Syrtash. “It can be as simple as the woman making the first move one night, if her partner usually makes the first move.” In her TED Talk “The Secret to Desire in a Long-Term Relationship,” relationship therapist Esther Perel says that men and women have a strong need for adventure, for novelty, for mystery, for risk, for danger, for the unknown, for the unexpected. This element is one of the secrets to desire.
They put sex on their partner’s mind throughout the dayiStock/shironosov
In Perel’s TED Talk, she also says that “foreplay pretty much starts at the end of the previous orgasm.” Translation: All the little things you do outside the bedroom add up to getting yourself and your partner in the mood for sex. Or be inspired by the folks in this Redbookmag.com article about couples who have a lot of sex: One woman said she wears silk underwear to feel sexier throughout the day. Another does things in the morning to get her partner lusting after her, like sexy stretches while getting dressed to get him thinking about her all day long. Then sex is inevitable that night, she said.