Work, worries, and a busy life can tug at romantic relationships. Keep the love alive in simple ways every day for a stronger, happier, healthier bond.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, romance is often pushed to the back burner. But even if your relationship isn’t always in sizzle mode, it’s important to keep your emotional connection with your partner simmering. “A strong emotional bond is what separates our friends from our partners,” explains Marla Zeiderman, PsyD, a clinical psychologist with Kaiser Permanente in Colorado. “Feeling connected with others is a human need.”

A lack of connection can lead to loneliness even within a relationship. “This strong emotional connection with a partner helps us live and grow, stay healthy, and find

satisfaction with life,” Dr. Zeiderman adds. Find small, simple ways every day to show your love and stay connected to your partner. Focus on the things that make the two of you feel happy and close to keep your relationship strong. Here’s how.

1. Say ‘Thank You’

Thank your mate every day to keep your relationship strong, recommends Karen Ruskin, PsyD, a psychotherapist and author of Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual. “We all need to feel appreciated,” she says, so practice showing appreciation for things both large and small, whether it’s picking up a gallon of milk, covering kid duty, or simply allowing your partner a little quiet time. Say “thanks” with a physical token of your appreciation, too — be it a hug, caress, or kiss. “Physically present actions with one’s words go a long way,” Dr. Ruskin says.

2. Keep Kissing

A quick kiss as you head out the door in the morning may no longer create butterflies, but it’s still important. The more often a couple kisses, the more satisfied they are with their relationship and the more bonded both partners feel, shows 2013 research in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. The researchers also found that while frequency of sex didn’t affect relationship satisfaction, the quality of the kiss did matter. So pucker up and practice often!

3. Get Touchy-Feely

The power of touch can be very strong, whether it’s a loving hug or just holding hands. In fact, hugging offers serious health benefits, from lowering blood pressure to boosting oxytocin levels to reducing stress, while more intense, longer, and more frequent hugs can strengthen a couple’s bond, according to 2012 research in the journal Comprehensive Psychology. Hold hands when walking through the grocery store, or sneak up and give your partner a hug and kiss when he or she is doing the dishes or reading the kids a story.

4. The Power of Two (Couples, That Is)

Double dating can rekindle the passion in your relationship, according to a 2014 study from Wayne State University. When couples on double dates opened up to each other, spouses created closer bonds with their respective mates than couples who went on a solo date night. The researchers found that when another couple relates to personal information you share, their reaction serves to deepen your bond and even sparks greater feelings of passion in you for your mate. Pick caring dating partners and spark a good conversation — you’ll reap the rewards at home.

5. Let Absence Make the Heart Grow Fonder

Struggling in a long-distance relationship? Don’t worry. A 2013 study in the Journal of Communication examined long-distance relationships and found that, compared with couples who were in closer proximity to each other, the long-distance loves felt closer and more intimate. According to the researchers, this happens because even though the quantity of communication may be less, the quality was better, and partners were more focused on their communication and the virtual time they spent together.

6. Go to Bed (Happy) Together

Make an effort to head to bed at the same time at least a few nights a week. “This is yet another fine example of being mindful of paying attention to one’s mate,” Ruskin says. Also pay attention to your sleep habits, as they play a huge role in your mood and relationship. A 2010 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine noted that men who experienced poor sleep quality had negative interactions with their partners, and women who experienced problems with their partners during the day had trouble sleeping at night.

7. Send a Sweet Text

Technology may not sound very romantic, but it can help strengthen your bond with your partner. Partners who send each other loving texts during the day are more satisfied with their relationships, found a 2013 study in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy. Just be careful about the content of your texts. The researchers also found that texting to talk about a problem could spell trouble. So while you should resolve a squabble face to face, texting a loving “I heart u!” can make your partner smile.

8. Take Care of Your Mate

When it comes to love, attention must be paid. “I’ve found that the No. 1 marriage killer is taking your spouse for granted by not paying attention to them,” Ruskin says. When you wake in the morning, roll over with a kiss and express your appreciation. “Each day,” she suggests, “make it a point to do something special specifically for your mate that makes them feel special.”

 

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