1. Prioritize your relationship
List the top three priorities in your life. If your relationship isn't on the list, you need to scratch something else off and put it on there – before it’s too late. "Research shows neglecting your relationship may lead to dissatisfaction, alienation and even separation," says Dr. Regev.
Don't use being busy as an excuse to let your love life languish. Do what it takes – turn off the TV, hire a sitter, leave work at a reasonable hour – to spend time with your partner.
2. Take care of yourself
"If you don't take care of yourself, you'll have little energy for your partner – or the relationship," says Dr. Regev. Eat well to maintain your health. Work out so you feel your best. Spend time with your friends so you feel happy and connected to your social network. All these things create positive energy you'll bring home to your lover.
3. Accentuate the positive
Make sure negative interactions with your significant other are outnumbered by positive ones, says Dr. Regev, citing relationship research from the University of Washington’s Dr. John Gottman.
"Dr. Gottman found stable and happy couples were characterized by having at least a 5:1 positive-to-negative-interaction ratio," says Dr. Regev. For every one criticism or complaint, there were at least five compliments, words of appreciation or statements of affection.
4. Learn how to dial it down a few notches
You know those tense situations when you know you’re on the edge of a blowout? Try de-escalation. "Each partner should learn how to take turns de-escalating through humour, taking responsibility for actions, clarifying and apologizing,” says Dr. Regev.
Humour's also a great strategy – but only if it's self-deprecating, not at your better half's expense.
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Who doesn't like to be reminded how much they're loved? Tell your lover what you appreciate about them on a regular basis. It will boost their self-esteem and remind you how lucky you are.
"It's a great aphrodisiac," adds Dr. Regev.
The caveat: Be honest. "Don"t overdo it or your partner might be put off" says Dr. Regev.
6. Have fun!
If your idea of "couples time" is spring-cleaning or budgeting, think again. Relationship-boosting quality time should be enjoyable and allows you to connect emotionally. Lovemaking counts. So does playing paintball or volunteering at the animal shelter to groom kittens or walk dogs together.
7. Talk about your dreams
Chances are, you've both grown and changed since you first got together. "Sit down and take turns telling each other your goals and dreams. When you're listening to your partner, avoid dismissing, ridiculing or deeming their goals unrealistic. Listen with an open mind and with curiousity," says Dr. Regev. You never know where it can take you.
8. Do something special for him
Cook his favourite meal. Buy his favourite wine while picking up the groceries. Let him sleep in while you deal with the kids Saturday morning. Little gestures count for a lot when it comes to relationship happiness.
Chances are he'll reciprocate. If he's a bit slow on the uptake, feel free to gently remind him you'd love to benefit from little gestures of love, too, such as a foot rub or waking up to coffee. (Just be sure to avoid speaking in a grudging, "tit for tat kind of way," says Dr. Regev.)
9. Text your love
"Expressing love on a regular basis has been shown to be one of the most important building blocks of romantic relationships," says Dr. Regev. So text some sweet nothings, pack a mash note into his briefcase, or dial him at work just to say "I love you."
10. Touch it up
Touch brings humans closer. "So if you're only touching during sex, you're both missing out on one of the greatest ingredients in a loving relationship," says Dr. Regev.
Hugs, kisses, handholding, cuddling, arm-rubbing and back-patting are all G-rated forms of loving affection. Whether you want to move things in an R-rated direction is up to you – but it's important to make physical affection part of your daily life.
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