Back in September, we ran an article about some of the things that you and your partner should do more often to have a happier relationship.
Believe it or not, that long list was far from exhaustive – there are still 12 more things you should try to do more, if you’re looking to have the happiest, healthiest relationship you’ve ever had.
Are you ready to take these 12 tips and make them your own?
Travel someplace new.
Traveling helps expand your world. You get the chance to learn about a new culture, if you travel far enough, and you get to try new things. Plus, when you travel with your partner, you have plenty of time to get to know each other better. Just make sure you set the perfect road trip playlist before you leave. If you and your partner have different taste in music, make sure you’re giving a good balance of her songs and your songs, as well as a few you both enjoy.
Go on a hike.
Hiking is a great way to stay in shape, and you might just have an adventure while you’re out. First, set aside a full day for the fun adventures you’re about to have. Get packed up for a picnic, and make sure you have something to keep mementos in. After all, you’re creating memories – so you want to make sure you’ve got a way to remember them. (If you’re hiking somewhere protected, bring along a camera instead – it may be illegal to remove anything from the natural habitat.)
Try a new restaurant or eatery.
As great as home-cooked meals are, there’s something stress-busting about letting someone else do the cooking and the dishes. You don’t always want to “work” for your date, but you don’t want to let things get too mundane either. It’s great to have a favorite place – but if you’ve never tried Thai, Indian, or Peruvian food, you might as well check them out with your partner. Even if you don’t like the food, you’ve created a great memory with your partner – and that’s more important.
Build your “love maps.”
If you’ve never heard of a love map, don’t fret – it’s simply a guide to the inner workings of your partner. Relationship researcher and author John Gottman suggests that couples who have a deep understanding of the things that are important to each other have a happier relationship over all. Little things, big things, and everything in between – what matters to her? Check out this list of questions if you’re stumped for what to talk about – and make sure you pay attention to the answers!
Go skydiving (or just do something exciting).
Maybe skydiving isn’t for everyone – I know it’s not really something I’m personally interested in. But it’s important that you try new, exciting things that get your blood pumping. Not only are you crafting memories, but you’re also increasing your blood-oxygen levels, which is proven to lead to better sex. Whether that blood-oxygen comes from exercise or adrenaline doesn’t really matter – just get excited!
Have more sex.
While we’re on the subject of “better sex,” it’s also important to have more regular sex. I’m not talking regular like “boring,” either. There’s a known connection between sexual satisfaction and happiness, and it’s not clear which is the cause and which is the effect – but it doesn’t hurt to give this one a shot anyway. Sex promotes the production of oxytocin and dopamine – which, respectively, bond you together and make you happy. Why wouldn’t you want to have more sex?
I am all about meditating these days. It’s so great for your brain – it promotes better stress-battling tactics, better sex, better focus, more clarity, and even better sleep. It might seem a bit awkward at first, but it’s a lot simpler than you might think. I personally use the Calm app daily, but there are many other meditation apps, sites, and guides out there. Find the one that works best for you, and make it a daily habit that you do together!
Keep a “conflict journal.”
While it’s tempting to hash out a fight right when things start to bother you, research shows that it’s better to write things out from an impartial stance. Journaling about what happened, from a third-party, neutral stance, you can separate yourself from your opinions about the subject and instead approach things with more empathy and understanding. You don’t need to share these journals with each other, although you can if you choose. It’s just important to evaluate things without letting those pesky emotions get in the way.
Take on a new hobby.
Hobbies are great. Not only do they help you grow yourself as a person, but when you engage in a hobby with someone you care about, you’re more likely to enjoy the experience – even if you don’t like the particular hobby. Plus, hobbies are a great alternative to traditional dates, especially when you choose something that sounds interesting to both of you. Even if you don’t like it after all, you’ve made a memory and a story to tell.
Run an obstacle course or fun run.
Brief story time: I used to work for a marathon photography company. I got to see first-hand how excited people are when they finish something they set out to do. Obstacle courses, in particular, require hard work and training – both of which can carry over to your relationship quite well. My girlfriend and I are attending a “zombie run” this weekend, but the events available near you may be different. Check with your local community center, or do a quick internet search to see what’s close and within your budget – and then train for it! (Together, of course.)
Create shared meaning.
It’s important to maintain your autonomy, but it’s also important that you and your partner see eye to eye on certain things. “Shared meaning” is simply a rundown of the most important aspects of your relationship. What routines are most special to you? What holidays are important? What are your shared goals and expectations? What roles do you each play in your partnership? If you don’t agree the first time you talk through things, try to find a compromise that benefits both of you – and then roll with it.
Spend an extra 6 hours together every week.
That might seem like a lot of extra time – but really, it’s a lot of little times that are doable. Here’s the breakdown:
- 2 minutes per work day (10 minutes per week): Briefly talk about what’s on your partner’s schedule that day, and give her a nice send-off. If you work different schedules, you may need a few more minutes each week, but it still doesn’t take much.
- 20 minutes per day (1:40 per week): Give each other a hug and kiss when you reunite, and spend some time talking about your day. As we discussed in the previous installment, it’s important to talk about the good stuff, the bad stuff, and the embarrassing stuff.
- 5 minutes per day (35 minutes per week): Tell your partner what you’re grateful for. Chances are, there’s a lot that she does that you haven’t properly thanked her for.
- 5 minutes per day (35 minutes per week): Physical affection, especially before bed. Even if you’re not “a cuddler,” there are known (and well-documented) benefits of cuddling with the person you love. Use those benefits to bring you closer together!
- 2 hours per week: Make a regular, recurring date. This can be any of the ideas we’ve outlined so far, or something else entirely. Just make sure you’re spending dedicated time together every single week.
- 1 hour per week: Have a weekly recap session, discussing the things that went well as well as the things that didn’t. Ask your girlfriend what you can do to make her happier, and offer her suggestions that would make you happier, too.