Studies show relationships, particularly romantic ones, are hard to maintain and that the vast majority end in a breakup. According to Dr. Fred Nour, a California-based neurologist and the author of “True Love: How to Use Science to Understand Love,” most romantic relationships generally don’t last more than two years. Modern-day marriages don’t seem to fair much better. With a divorce rate of about 50%, the U.S. has the sixth-highest divorce rate in the world.
Even when couples love each other immensely, staying together can prove challenging. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible; relationships are like fields in that you reap what you sow, meaning you get what you put into them. Either put in a lot of hard work and be rewarded with a loving and long-lasting relationship or do nothing and watch your relationship wither and die. Most would agree the former is a much better choice than the latter. Bearing that in mind, the seven proven ways to strengthen and make your relationship all-around better include
1. Going on Dates
Whether you’ve been married for decades or have been dating for a few months, it’s easy to get complacent in your relationship and start taking each other for granted. This phenomenon, by the way, is not uncommon among cohabiting couples. According to a study published by an esteemed publication, an estimated 40% of cohabiting heterosexual couples split up within five years, with most saying they decided to call it quits due to feeling underappreciated or undervalued in the relationship. Going on weekly dates is a great way to keep the flames of passion burning while fending off the complacency known to ruin relationships.
2. Spending Time Apart
While going on dates and spending time together is very important in a relationship, spending time apart is just as important. After all, absence does make the heart grow fonder. For personal growth, couples need to spend some time exploring and experiencing the world alone for the good of their relationship, says Dr. Esther Perel, a Belgian-American psychotherapist and the author of “Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence.” Spending time apart also goes a long way toward combating complacency and relationship boredom.
While this might be a sensitive or embarrassing topic for some, it is a topic that is, nonetheless, worth discussing. According to a New York Times article, roughly 15% of married couples go 6 to 12 months without having sex with their spouse. The esteemed periodical also noted that couples in sexless marriages are generally less happy and are more likely to consider filing for divorce than couples who have sex regularly. That said, making time for sex is an excellent way to spice up your relationship and become an even closer and more loving couple.
4. Being Faithful
Infidelity is the leading cause of divorce and relationship problems. And men and women both have a variety of reasons for betraying their partners in this way. Some do so because they believe they are sexually incompatible with their partner or no longer find them attractive. For some, it’s just the thrill of being with someone new. Whatever the reason, a wandering eye can quickly topple an otherwise strong relationship or marriage.
5. The Little Things
Over-the-top gestures are not always necessary when the time comes to show someone you care and value having them in your life. Studies show small things, such as holding hands, leaving hand-written love notes in easy-to-find places, or randomly saying “I love you,” can be enough to put a smile on a significant other’s face and aptly demonstrate the depth of one’s love.
6. Sharing the Same Bedtime
As far-fetched as it might seem, couples who share the same bedtime are generally happier than couples who do not. Available data shows an estimated 75% of couples have mismatched bedtimes and sleeping patterns. As a result, those couples often complain of a plurality of relationship problems, including little or no sex, difficulty communicating, and above-average conflict in the relationship.
7. Creating Memorable Experiences
Like dating, many couples don’t concern themselves with creating memorable experiences after the honeymoon phase of their relationship has come and gone. And that is a huge mistake. Whether a couple has been together for five years or five months, creating memorable moments, such as going to a movie theater, a favorite theme park, or a concert, should always be a priority.
All in all, relationships require a considerable amount of work and looking after if they’re going to last. Of course, adopting and putting to practice just one or two of the suggestions detailed in this article can help couples achieve a long, healthy, rewarding, and, above all else, happy relationship.