Banish The Relationship Blahs
First, the good news: The vast majority of us want love to last. According to a new Clark University poll, a whopping 86 percent of adults aged 18 to 29, both single and married, expect marriage to last a lifetime.
Now, the bad news: Research also shows that it might be biologically impossible to sustain passion for a single partner over time.
Fortunately, relationship experts have found that biology doesn't necessarily mean destiny. With a little effort, a couple can snap out of a temporary funk and rekindle their romance. "Taking time to think about and focus on the positive features of your partner can definitely be a good thing," says Claudia C. Brumbaugh, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Queens College in New York City. "An optimistic mindset -- whether it's about life in general or [focused] specifically toward your partner -- is beneficial for psychological and even physical well-being."
Read on for ways to significantly improve your love for your significant other.
Good: Write It Out
Having a hard time remembering why you fell in love with your partner? If making lists on paper helps you remember what to buy at the store, apply that same principle to your relationship. Write down all the reasons you're together, love-sonnet-style, and you just might find that those all-but-forgotten fond feelings will re-emerge. "Reminding yourself why you love your partner is a great technique [for pulling] yourself out of a rut," says Brent A. Mattingly, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Ursinus College and writer for ScienceofRelationships.com.
When you and your partner are going through a rough patch, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that your relationship is doomed. "We tend to focus on things that are easiest to observe, yet many of the things hidden from our sight are more important," says Mattingly. That's why taking inventory of the relationship as a whole can help ignite the love all over again.
Better: Say Something Nice
Pay the love forward by paying compliments to your partner. You can improve your emotional ties by doling out praise and acting interested, even when you don't really feel it. Research supports this fake-it-'til-you-make-it approach. A recent University of Washington study on the role of compliments in romantic relationships found that subjects felt more satisfied, in general, in partnerships where the significant other flattered them.
"Basically, niceness breeds niceness," says Brumbaugh. "It's called the reciprocity effect; people will be nicer to those who are nicer to them." Buttering up your beau, therefore, may do more than just fix your relationship blahs. He may reciprocate in kind, and you could score an unexpected romantic rendezvous to Turks & Caicos, or something.
Best: Try Something New Together
Speaking of booking surprise vacations, trying something adventurous together when the relationship starts to feel stale does wonders too, say experts.
"Couples should make it a point to do interesting and exciting things together after the newness wears off," says Mattingly. "These activities simulate those early feelings you felt when you were first getting to know each other."
But use this tactic sparingly: Mattingly warns that planning an over-the-top romantic escapade can sometimes backfire. "Couples who try too hard to craft a romantic date may expect things to be perfect," he says. "However, these lofty expectations are difficult to attain, and [if the] date night wasn't ideal the couple may interpret this as a sign that the relationship is in trouble. In other words, when you're in a funk, take baby steps with your dating plans until you're sure-footed again."