Beginning a relationship is generally the easy part; it's
maintaining the connection that gets a little tricky. That's
why a growing number of twosomes (whether or not
they've tied the knot) are going into couples therapy as a
preemptive strike against the tough times that will inevitably
hit...and to learn how to keep the good times flowing.
To give you a leg up in your love life, we asked the country's
top relationship experts to share the most crucial things
they've uncovered over the years — from big-picture philosophies
to little gestures that go a long way. These practices
will help keep your union in a happy, healthy place.
1. Act Out of Character
Couples develop a particular
dynamic: the way they relate to
each other that repeats itself
over and over. If you break that pattern and act against
type — in a positive way — you inject new life into the
relationship. For example, if you always get angry at your
guy when he doesn't follow through on some chore, try
addressing him in a nicer, more friendly tone, then thank
him when he does a good job. It works every time.
2. Get in Touch a Lot
No doubt you hug and kiss
each other hello and maybe
snuggle a little after having
sex. But simple acts like stroking his arm while you're
watching TV, taking his hand when you're walking
down the street, or fondling his thigh during dinner are
also ways to bond. Touching your partner throughout
the day triggers your feel-good hormones, which reinforces
your affection and makes you feel closer on an
3. Don't Be BFFs
Being pals with your man is
great in theory. But that kind of
connection actually can kill your
sex life. You could wind up having a roommatelike bond
with each other rather than a hot one if you let yourself
lose track of the masculine-feminine tension that excited
you at the beginning of your relationship. Save the gab
sessions for when you hang out with your girlfriends and
your sexy energy for connecting with your guy.
4. Enjoy a Steady Diet of Sex
If you want to maintain
closeness with your man,
get out of your head and
into bed. Guys feel more comfortable connecting with
women on a physical level, not engaging in deep discussions.
To strengthen your bond, approach your lust life as you would
your gym regimen or your diet — make it part of your routine.
Set a goal to have sex at least a couple times a week.
5. Take Turns Talking
To make sure you both get a
chance to state what's on your
mind during a disagreement —
and get your points across — alternate playing reflective
therapist, where one listens while the other talks.
6. Find the Intersection
When making decisions
together, try to find common
ground. You each
should write down exactly what you want. Let's say
you're angling for a vacay in San Francisco to see the
sights and hit up the cool shops and restaurants, while
he wants a tropical getaway where he can veg out by
the pool and sip drinks with umbrellas in the glass. Now
that your desires are clearly laid out on paper, you can
pick a place that will satisfy both your needs. A cool
city, a little sun...how about Miami?
7. Be More Positive Than Negative
There's a more effective
way to air
grievances than to
file an angry complaint. Sandwich your negative comment
between two positives. If you want to complain
about how he's always late, for example, try something like "You know, I love that you're so laid-back and easygoing,
but it really bothers me when you show up so late.
I'm sure you can still be the fun guy I adore and also be