2. Give a 20 second reunion hug when you return from work. Ashley Davis Bush, a psychotherapist and author of 75 Habits for a Healthy Marriage, says the simple act of giving our partner a hug is critical to feel connected to one another. For one, hugging your partner stimulates oxytocin, which sends happy vibes through both of you, but more importantly, an "intentional reunion" makes your partner feel appreciated. She recommends telling them how happy you are to see them, or how happy you are that they're home. "It's an incredible act of good will," Bush says. "They'll feel incredibly loved and valued, which will make them want to do the same for you."
A woman holds a pink wrapped gift as she kisses a man in a striped shirt. Remembering to surprise your spouse with romantic gestures or gifts helps keep the relationship strong.
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3. Checking in as a morning ritual. While you're sipping coffee or grabbing a breakfast bar to eat on the way to work, ask your partner what their day has in store or wish them luck with the big project they're working on. It will take less than a minute, but it will remind your partner that you're thinking about them and that you're still interested, even after all of these years. Those little words will make your spouse happy. "Taking time and effort to understand the other person is the glue of intimacy," says Goulston.
4. Surprise them with small romantic gestures. Maybe your spouse mentioned his back hurt -- why not bring home a gift certificate for a massage from the local salon? Is your wife complaining she needs a night out? Surprise her with dinner reservations at a new restaurant in town. Leave a note in his suitcase -- or send a sweet text during the day. One woman's husband keeps a running list on Amazon of things that remind him of her. When he wants to make his wife feel appreciated, he surprises her with a thoughtful package delivered to her doorstep. "It makes me feel like my husband is paying attention to almost everything I say -- and helps me overlook that he never throws his socks in the hamper," she jokes.
5. Pay your partner one compliment every day. The groundbreaking marriage researcher John Gottman discovered that happy couples had 20 positive interactions for every one negative. Give your relationship a boost of happiness with a simple compliment. Bush suggests that your compliment is very specific. Forget "That's a nice dress." How about: "That dress looks incredible on you.'" Says Bush: "A generic comment doesn't have as much power as a personal one."
6. Spend quality time on a low quantity budget. If you don't have much time together, Goulston says you can still foster intimacy by asking each other two questions daily: What was the best thing that happened to you today -- and what was the worst thing?
He recommends not looking for solutions when listening to your spouse's answers, but to simply listen. Let them feel heard. Be conscious of your body language: Are you leafing through the mail as the two of you talk -- or are you leaning in to your spouse and repeating back what he or she says. If your body language says "I'm listening," it will make your partner feel instantly understood, he says.
7. Take a moment to reflect on why your marriage works. Whenever a friend gets divorced, it gives couples an opportunity to ponder why their own relationship has managed to endure. "Most likely the two of you know why your relationship is successful, so acknowledge those things," says Whitbourne. It can bring a couple closer when they take stock of just how good they are for another -- and just how much they appreciate each other after all of those years.
8. Go to bed at the same time. When you first fall in love, couples linger in bed in the morning and snuggle up to one another at night. While it's normal for some of that affection to wane, don't let it disappear. Goulston thinks it's important for couples to go to bed at the same time, even if that means that the night owl gets up after a few minutes and goes back downstairs to watch TV. "Lay down with your partner, rub his or her arm, kiss them goodnight," he says. "It's a statement, a way to say we're in this together."