Beginning a relationship is generally the easy part; it’s maintaining the connection that gets a little tricky.  To give you a leg up on your love life, we have asked the experts to share the most crucial things they have uncovered over the years- from big picture philosophies to little gestures that go a long way. These practices will help keep your union in a happy, loving place.

 

1. Act Out of Character
Couples develop a particular dynamic: the way they relate to each other that repeats itself over and over. If you break that pattern and act against type — in a positive way — you inject new life into the relationship. For example, if you always get angry at your guy when he doesn’t follow through on some chore, try addressing him in a nicer, more friendly tone, then thank him when he does a good job. It works every time.

2. Get in Touch a Lot
No doubt you hug and kiss each other hello and maybe snuggle a little after having sex. But simple acts like stroking his arm while you’re watching TV, taking his hand when you’re walking down the street, or fondling his thigh during dinner are also ways to bond. Touching your partner throughout the day triggers your feel-good hormones, which reinforces your affection and makes you feel closer on an instinctive level.

a couple hugging

 

3. Don’t Be BFFs
Being pals with your man is great in theory. But that kind of connection actually can kill your sex life. You could wind up having a roommate-like bond with each other rather than a hot one if you let yourself lose track of the masculine-feminine tension that excited you at the beginning of your relationship. Save the gab sessions for when you hang out with your girlfriends and your sexy energy for connecting with your guy.

4. Enjoy a Steady Diet of Sex
If you want to maintain closeness with your man, get out of your head and into bed. Guys feel more comfortable connecting with women on a physical level, not engaging in deep discussions. To strengthen your bond, approach your lust life as you would your gym regimen or your diet — make it part of your routine. Set a goal to have sex at least a couple times a week.

in bed together.

5. Take Turns Talking
To make sure you both get a chance to state what’s on your mind during a disagreement — and get your points across — alternate playing reflective therapist, where one listens while the other talks.

couple arguing.

 

6. Be More Positive Than Negative
There’s a more effective way to air grievances than to file an angry complaint. Sandwich your negative comment between two positives. If you want to complain about how he’s always late, for example, try something like “You know, I love that you’re so laid-back and easygoing, but it really bothers me when you show up so late. I’m sure you can still be the fun guy I adore and also be on time.”

7. Grow Your Tolerance
Neither of you is perfect, and the quirks you both have are here to stay. So rather than let those annoying traits work your last nerve, try to get in touch with the upside of those particular flaws, even if it’s not immediately recognizable. Instead of getting annoyed when he starts screaming at the TV, for example, remind yourself how much you love his passion. Or if his shyness with new people bugs you, think about how refreshing it is to be with a chill, genuine guy rather than a blowhard who needs to chat with everyone in the room.

8. Take a Time-Out
It’s important that you get a break from the daily grind and spend alone time as a couple — cell phones and the Internet are off-limits. It can be a fun day trip or just a few quiet hours to yourselves. The point is simply to steal away (even if you’re going nowhere) so you can reconnect, free of any distractions.

spending time together.

 

9. Have His Back
You might not agree with your guy when he’s had a riff with a friend or he thinks his boss is being unfair, but you should always be on his side…and vice versa. Otherwise, you’ll both feel like you can’t count on each other. That doesn’t mean you have to take the “you’re so right” route all the time. Just hear him out, and let him know that you’ll support him no matter what.

10. Spend a Little Money on Each Other
You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to give small presents to show your love. In fact, gifts are more fun-and meaningful — when they’re not expected. Try to get into the habit of exchanging sweet tokens of appreciation for no particular reason. Don’t go and blow your paycheck though. It’s not about being extravagant; it’s just a way of showing that you really get — and think about — each other. Maybe you buy him a tee of his favorite band that you saw on sale or he gets you a pair of pajamas in your favorite color.

 

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