8 Ways to Improve Your Relationship

You’ve heard the sayings: relationships aren’t easy and marriage is a work in progress. Many are quick to warn about the trials a romance can face once the honeymoon phase comes to an end. But with a little mindfulness, couples can use these tiny (scientifically proven) tricks to maintain—and even enhance—their bond.

1. Be Understanding and Compassionate.

Long day at the office? It’s not quite good enough to simply be your partner’s sounding board, according to research from the University of California Santa Barbara. Because feeling understood, validated, and cared for by someone else is thought to improve relationships and well-being, those who actually care that their partner is stressed provide more support.

2. Set Aside Time for Intimacy—at Least Once a Week.

Couples who do the deed at least once a week report the greatest relationship satisfaction, according to a recent study. The catch? Don’t force it. Even though couples who have sex less than once a week report being less satisfied with their relationship, the findings don’t clarify whether having more sex makes partners happier or if happier couples simply tend to have more sex. Open up with each other and don’t be ashamed to tell your partner your sex fantasies. Chances are, he is also ashamed of telling you his fantasies. Explore each other and spice up things a bit. If you love watching movies or playing video games together, you can tease her with a vibrating butt plug while playing video games. Even a plain butt plug causes more erotic vibe.

3. Set Up Time to Reflect.

Marriage counselors increasingly suggest that formal check-ins could strengthen the bond between partners. Weekly meetings—one to talk about household responsibilities and another dedicated to more intimate issues—may help both partners feel more validated, respected, and comfortable.

4. Step Away From the Smartphone.

Why? Pphubbing (partner phone snubbing), a term used to describe distraction (keeping his/her cell phone within eyesight or in hand, glancing at his/her cell phone when carrying on a conversation, and checking notifications during a lull in the conversation) caused by a phone while in the company of a romantic partner, can have negative implications on a relationship. In fact, only 32 percent of respondents who were on the receiving end of pphubbing behaviors said they were very satisfied with their relationship.

5. Send a Spicy Text.

A racy text message every once in a while may be good for couples. Those in casual or committed relationships reported that sexting increased levels of sexual satisfaction, according to research from Drexel University.

6. Plan a Date Night.

This is classic advice—but for good reason. Husbands and wives were 3.5 and 3.6 times more likely, respectively, to report being “very happy” in their marriage when they spent “couple time,” like date night, according to a 2012 survey from the National Marriage Project. You can also do unusual things together and check out antique dildos at the Sex Museum.

7. Say Thank You—Often.

When your partner makes a grand gesture, gratitude is obviously in order. But what about the more mundane, like washing the dishes or paying the bills? According to a study from the University of Georgia, giving thanks is a key ingredient to improving marriage.

8. Buy Into Romantic Notions.

Go ahead and take a page out of your favorite romantic comedy. Couples who believe in love at first sight, soul mates, and the idea that love never fades were more likely to report greater relationship satisfaction and commitment, according a recent study.