There's nothing nicer than those moments when you and your boyfriend or husband feel super-close and in love. The trick, of course, is to keep discovering new ways to stay in sync and excited about each other as your relationship progresses. And recently, scientists have been turning up some fascinating findings. "All the latest research is showing that real happiness and good relationships stem from micro-opportunities to connect-small, sometimes fleeting instances when we experience positive emotions with another person," says psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., author of Positivity. "These acts of affection make both of you feel open, creative, connected, and fulfilled." As a result, you continue to fall harder for each other, even if you've been together for years.
This is a whole new way of thinking. In the past, many people approached love with a fix-it-when-it's-broken mind-set. But since no couple is problem-free, focussing on tackling issues is fruitless and exhausting. Instead, relationship experts now say it's more important to play up the best parts of your bond in easy, everyday ways-like popping a towel in the dryer while he's in the shower so it's waiting and warm for him, laughing at an inside joke, giving him a surprise sexy touch, and showing how much you appreciate him. Try the tips below and he'll soon pick up the habit and do the same types of things for you.
1. Celebrate good news in a big way.
Give him a quarterbackstyle whack on the butt, open a bottle of bubbly, and ask for details when he lands a client or aces the GMAT. A University of California at Santa Barbara study found that the best couples aren't just supportive but also genuinely thrilled when good things happen to each other.
2. Rave about
the new restaurant he picked for dinner.
3. Challenge him to a race.
A spontaneous sprint to the car or up the mall escalator instantly boosts your bond even though it might seem kiddish. Stimulating situations get couples feeling more in love, a Stony Brook University study confirmed.
4. Really thank him.
If he helps you paint your bathroom, leave his favourite salty snack in the pantry.
5. Defuse a fight.
Calling him by his pet name in the heat of an argument cools things down, according to a study published in the Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology. Say something like "Baby, I hate fighting with you." Twosomes who find ways to break the tension feel closer after a disagreement and make up quicker.
6. Mini-massage his neck
in public, like when you walk up behind him at the bar. It creates an instant connection, and he knows every guy there is thinking, he's a lucky bastard.
7. Learn a funny joke
to tell him later that night. Couples who tell him later that night. Couples who believe they share a similar sense of humour report higher rates of satisfaction.
8. Secretly do his
most dreaded chore: take out the trash, match his clean socks, defunk his fridge. A Columbia University study found that giving him a hand behind the scenes boosts his mood and feelings for you more than doing it out in the open.
9. Play the What If?
game. Take turns asking questions like "What if you won a game show that's giving out a tonne of money?" or "What if you had only five days to live?"
10. Buy him some lucky
underwear for the big work meeting he's been stressing out over.
11. While he's showering,
steal his robe and towel...and anything else he can cover up with. Love thrives on sexy, mischievous deeds and the fact that you want to see him naked will reinforce his desire for you, thereby amping yours as well.
12. Roughhouse with him.
Wrestle him to the carpet, straddle him and tickle, nip, and kiss him all over. Adrenaline boosting activities enhance love, according to research from Stony Brook University.
13. Without asking,
swap his empty beer for a fresh one when he's watching the game.
14. Help him be his best.
If he's always wanted to learn Japanese, load his iPod with beginner lessons. Couples researchers call this the Michelangelo effect- like sculptors chipping away at a pile of rocks, great pairs help each other uncover their finest selves.
15. Every once in
a while, send him an e-mail stating a reason why he's awesome, like "You're the best because you know how I like my coffee."
16. Hand him
his favourite section when you grab the newspaper first.
17. Give him opportunities
to shine. For example, if he's excellent at cricket, bring along a ball and bat for a pickup game in the park. If he's a wine connoisseur, ask him to pick out the bottle at your birthday dinner
18. Check him out.
Stop and just look at him. Watch the way he moves. Listen to the sound of his voice. He doesn't even need to know you're counting up all the obscure things you love about him, like his sexy, sideways grin. Your happy, loving attitude has a ripple effect on the way you act around him, and he'll feel it.
19. Slide your hand
down and graze his goods when you can tell he's had a hellish day. Your caress sends the message that you're picking up his vibe but sparing him probing questions.
20. While you're walking
draw his arm around you. This triggers his protective, connective instincts.
21. When you introduce him to friends or co-workers, highlight any recent impressive accomplishments of his.