By Sheila Monaghan and Caitlin Chang
A little quirky, but scientifically proven – these tips will add a double dose of joy to your union.
Secret 1: Pretend you’ve just met
Whether you’ve been together for six months or six years, spend time each day acting as if you just started dating. Ask him what he thought of that Homeland episode, or share what you’d do if you won the lottery. “Over time, couples stop asking those exploratory, get-to-know-you questions because they think they already understand each other,” says Terri Orbuch, author of Five Simple Steps To Take Your Marriage From Good To Great. But because we all continue to change and develop, daily check-ins like this are what keep the connection growing.
Secret 2: Control the boozing
Research suggests that young adults who drink heavily (four or more drinks on one occasion for women; five or more for men) are less likely to wed – and may be at a greater risk for early separation if they do. “Alcohol can fuel aggression and conflict – you’re more likely to argue when you’ve been drinking and a positive outcome is less probable,” says Joburg-based sexologist Catriona Boffard.
Secret 3: Don’t win an Oscar
A best actress winner is 63 percent more likely to have her marriage end before her category mates do, say researchers. The findings may speak to an underlying social norm: sudden one-sided success can put strain on a romantic partnership. “The increased rate of divorce may be due to a husband’s discomfort with his wife’s success,” says study author Colleen Stuart. “On the other hand, the wife may grow dissatisfied with her current marital arrangement because she now has the confidence and opportunity to move away from a bad relationship.” Try to remain a power couple: encourage and celebrate each other’s successes.
Secret 4: Tweet responsibly
Avid tweeters have shorter relationships – 10 percent shorter – than those who don’t microblog, according to a survey.
Secret 5: Hold a grudge (as long as he doesn’t)
Provided your partner is able to bounce back from spats, you’ll experience greater satisfaction, even if you tend to stay irritated, according to research published in Psychological Science. The mark of a good recovery: you don’t allow conflicts about one issue to spill over into other areas of your relationship.
Secret 6: Burn bras (together)
Forget flowers – feminism is the new romance, say experts. Women whose male partner is a feminist report better relationship quality, while men with feminist partners experience more sexual satisfaction and relationship stability. “A male feminist partner may increase a woman’s ability to realise her own goals and career ambitions,” says study author Dr Laurie Rudman. Plus, these women may be more likely to initiate sex, and no guy is going to complain about that.
Secret 7: Be the beauty to his beast
Coupling up with an average Frik (with a beer boep) may be the key to long-term love. According to a study in the Journal of Family Psychology, when men were married to more attractive women, they seemed more likely to step up to the plate. The real secret to success? Support.
Secret 8: Twist the sheets at least once a week
Increasing the frequency of your romps generates as much bliss as scoring a massive bonus. It’s not so much the sex itself that leads to happiness; it’s the frequency. “Couples who like each other end up in bed more often,” says study author Dr Andrew Oswald. “And it’s the liking each other part that increases joy.” But seriously, who needs a reason?
Secret 9: Limit the chick flicks
If Kate Hudson and Paul Rudd regularly appear in your lounge, your union could be in the danger zone. “Just like watching Disney movies can make you believe in a knight in shining armour, so can rom-coms – but they often depict far-fetched, fantasy scenarios,” says Boffard. “There’s nothing wrong with trying to keep the magic alive in your relationship, but it’s important to remain realistic.”
Secret 10: Nurture your friends’ relationships
You might divorce-proof your own. US researchers found that the break-up of a close friend’s marriage increases your own odds of splitting by as much as 75 percent. “Some people may see another’s divorce as permission to change their own life,” suggests study co-author Dr Rose McDermott. Alternatively, when you encourage your friends to stay together (happily), you may generate reasons that also apply to your bond.