The strongest unions may be the ones that focus less in champagne-drenched dinners and rose-petal-strewn beds and more on these five practical actions.
Spontaneous getaways and supersize bouquets settle squabbles in rom-coms and other fantasy realms, but in the real world, romantic gestures aren’t cure-alls for relationship woes. In fact, unromantic gestures can be the better salve. Because couples are marrying latter and living together before they do, continual improvement of the partnership is more important (and effective) than quick fixes. Nobody is suggesting romance be killed off completely – far from it. It’s just smart to add these unconventional strengtheners into the happy-couple mix.
Consider a Love Contract
The Convention: Love should be spontaneous, not scripted.
The Counter: “If you negotiate difficult issues up front, your relationship will have a much stronger footing. See: cohabitation agreements increasing 39 percent in the past five years, per the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and couples creating DIY versions, using sites. Even the prince and princess of Silicon Valley, Mark Zuckerberg and his then-girlfriend (now wife) Priscilla Chan, reportedly made one.
The Realistic Approach: When the two of you get serious, discuss how you each want the relationship to work. “Tell him, ‘I want us both to be happy, so let’s talk,'” Hash out issues like sex, money, religion, and chores. Putting the plan into writing is key, but involving the law is optional.
Spend Time Apart
The Convention: The more minutes you spend together, the closer you’ll be.
The Counter: Maintaining independence actually solidifies couples. Experts say that constantly learning new things about each other is vital to keeping your relationship as riveting as your Twitter feed. “You can’t be glued at the hip to make that happen”.
The Realistic Approach: Take regular solo time. Natalie magana, 25, and her husband, of Chicago, do their own thing two or three nights a week. “After being apart, I look forward to telling him about the shenanigans I had with my friends, and I can’t wait to her about his,” she says.
The Convention: Penciling in intimacy is clinical.
The Counter: “It gives the message that, at that time, nothing is more important than being together”. Plus, the more sex you have, the happier you’ll be. Couples who gratify each other sexual needs are 65 percent more likely to be satisfied in their pairing than those who don’t, says a study in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy.
The Realistic Approach: To up how often you undress each other, say “I miss having sex with you,” who advises mandated sack time once a week. If you aren’t in the mood at that hour, cuddle or kiss instead.
Welcome the Rough Patch
The Convention: Focusing only on the positive helps couples through tough times.
The Counter: In fragile unions, having some don’t-want-the-neighbors-to-hear disagreements can help the relationship survive, per a study from the University of Tennessee. Doing so helps probe – and repair – what’s wrong. “You have to feel free to tell your partner something about them isn’t fantastic”.
The Realistic Approach: Fight clean. Remember to focus on finding a solution, not KO’ing your sparing partner. If you do get nasty, apologize for morphing into a mean girl and explain why you got upset.
Don’t Talk About Your Relationship with Others
The Convention: Solid couples gush – and vent- about each other to their friends.
The Counter: Babbling too much can make your relationship feel like a reality show. When Sheila Dichoso, 29, of Los Angeles, started dating her now-fiance, she told her friends everything, good and bad. But those spillfests can weaken his trust and put pressure on the couple’s every move. Sheila soon resolved to keep mum about her relationship. “Now it’s like we have our own fun, private world,” she says.
The Realistic Approach: Pick one person to confide in. One who knows both of you, so when you have problems, she tells you when you’re the one who’s being a jerk!”. In which case, a small romantic gesture – see below – might be just the thing.
5 Romantic Gestures To Embrace
- Say “I Love You” : Those words “give a true sense of security”. Say them less out of habit, more when you’re struck by how much you adore him.
- Surprise Each Other : Romance ain’t no big thing. Hide a handwritten note in his briefcase, download a sexy song on his iPod or cook his favorite meal. And he should follow suit!
- Celebrate : Revel in his achievements. A study at UCLA found that couples’ actions during happy moments are more important than what they do during trying ones.
- Talk Dirty : “‘You look nice’ is fine, but when my husband says ‘Your boobs are awesome’ or ‘Your ass looks delicious,í it gives you a real lift”.
- Have Rituals : Whether its Sunday – morning breakfast or a phone call on the way home, routines are crucial to a solid twosome, according to a report in Communication Studies.