Do something special out of the blue. Can you name three things that would make your partner smile right now? If so, do one of them. It doesn’t have to be big. It can simply be a text saying, “You’re amazing,” or giving a 5-minute foot massage at the end of the day or a gift card to his favorite coffee shop. It’s not necessarily about what you do—it’s the fact that you unexpectedly took the time to do something special just for your partner.
Take a trip down memory lane. Look at photos from when you were a new couple and were falling in love; staring at those happy pics or sharing stories from early on in your relationship will bring up those mushy feelings all over again. “When we experience nostalgia, we tend to feel happier, have higher self-esteem, feel closer to loved ones and feel that life has more meaning,” notes Erica Hepper, Ph.D., a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Surrey in England.
Cut the tension during an argument. One of the key strategies in successful relationships is finding ways to smooth things over during a fight, aka high quality “repairs”—meaning using any tactic that de-escalates an argument as it unfolds to keep things from getting out of control. Some ideas: Use humor to tame tension during an argument; put your ego aside, recognize and state that you’re wrong if you are; or simply comment on how communication during the disagreement is going, such as, “I think we’re getting off track here, and I don’t want this to turn into a big fight.”
Get a good night’s sleep. Turns out, a lack of shut-eye makes us act selfishly and take our partners for granted, which doesn’t bode well for our relationships. “Our research found that a poor night’s sleep causes people to prioritize their own needs over others,” says Amie Gordon, a U.C. Berkeley psychologist and lead investigator of the study. “When we tracked study participants over two weeks, we found they reported more gratitude toward their partners on the nights they slept well and less on the nights they slept poorly.” Since we can’t always control how much sleep we get (thanks, snoring dog), try this tactic instead: Make “thank you” an essential phrase in the morning. You can even turn it into a game: You have to say thank you about something before you leave the house.
Break a sweat together. We’re talking in the gym—not between the sheets (though that’s great, too). Research shows that working out together comes with a slew of relationship-building benefits. “This will definitely impact your sex life because exercising helps people feel better,” says Jane Greer, Ph.D., a marriage and relationship psychotherapist in New York City and author of “What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship.” “It alleviates stress and gives you more energy; you feel better about yourself and your self-esteem increases. If you’re feeling all of that when you’re with your partner, the logical thing is to share that desirability and sexual companionship.”
Eat something. Low blood sugar levels may make couples more inclined to have an argument, according to research. In other words, hunger can lead to anger—or to put it in slang terms, you get hangry. Before letting into your partner about the dirty dishes in the sink, have an energizing snack that’s a mix of protein and carbohydrates, such as an apple with some nut butter or a piece of low-fat string cheese. Fueling up can help you think more clearly so you don’t blurt out something you don’t mean.