by Rachel Gore

With outside obligations like work, childcare, keeping up with bills and a never-ending “to-do” list, it is easy for couples to find themselves not connecting the way they did before. While the “perfect couple” doesn’t exist, there are several daily habits that couples can use to increase their relationship satisfaction. If you want to strengthen your relationship with your significant other, consider trying the following methods:

Practice self-care individually. Self-care describes actions taken to maintain your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. It has multiple proven health benefits and helps you remain more present, relaxed and levelheaded. While it may seem counterproductive to focus on yourself to strengthen a relationship, your self-care routine directly contributes to the health of your relationship with your partner. If you are going through a rough time, your partner may feel responsible for your well-being and neglect their own needs and wants. This additional stress can lead to resentment, especially if you are refusing to put in the work to take care of yourself. By utilizing selfcare, you will be able to spend more time doing enjoyable activities, engaging in meaningful conversations and having positive interactions with your significant other.

Spend uninterrupted quality time as a couple. As your relationship progresses, you may find yourself going on fewer date nights than before. Instead, you’ve gotten into the habit of coming home after work, changing into something comfortable and then spending the rest of the day lounging on the couch and binge-watching TV. While that is okay sometimes, it is important that you also put time aside for you and your partner to spend together – this could be as simple as inviting them to join the Netflix binge and watching something you both like. This is particularly true for couples who don’t share the same social circle: one study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that shared media is associated with greater relationship quality in couples who do not share friends with each other.

Practice honest communication. Good communication is critical to fostering a healthy relationship. Long-lasting intimacy requires not just sex, but openness about your feelings, fears, stressors, goals and dreams. While some find it hard to communicate their emotions to others – this can be especially true for men—it is a must-have for the longevity of the relationship. Positive communication also means arguing in a constructive, healthy, solutionbased manner instead of trying to “win” or blowing things out of proportion. On the flip side, staying silent about something that is bothering you can be just as destructive as a bad fight. In other words, speak up when you have a problem, but do it in a way that’s constructive instead of confrontational.

Laugh together. Laughter has a number of welldocumented benefits, including reducing blood pressure, increasing mood and triggering the release of endorphins. A University of Kansas study published in 2016 found that playfulness and humor between romantic partners are crucial and that shared laughter is an indicator of romantic attraction. Avoid making aggressive or mean spirited jokes at your partner’s expense or your relationship may suffer instead.

Express appreciation. Make it a habit of appreciating your partner regularly—there are so many ways that you can do so. Whether you explicitly tell your partner that you appreciate having them in your life, start every day with a “good morning” text message, make them coffee before work or knock something off their “to-do” list, try to do something every day to make them feel loved and cared for.

It goes without saying that real-world relationships take a lot more work than movies make it seem. You and your partner may struggle to enjoy each other on some days, but that’s perfectly normal! Having a strong, everlasting relationship is still possible, and by incorporating these tactics into your daily life, you may even find yourselves closer than ever before.