In any relationship, sooner rather than later, problems start to appear and one of the partners, if not both, will start needing something more. There are a lot of people who claim they know how to make a relationship better, but what does science actually have to say about it? Is there really a scientifically proven way to improve a relationship? Yes, there really is. A relationship can always be improved and be made more interesting, enriching and exciting. Here are some things you and your partner can do to strengthen your foundation and bond that is scientifically proven.
Show your appreciation.
In the beginning of your relationship, you gushed every time your significant other brought you your morning cup of coffee, but now you barely notice when it appears on your bedside table. Everyone likes to feel appreciated, but being in a long-term relationship can mean you start taking each other for granted. A study published in the journal Personal Relationships found that gratitude is key to a healthy and successful marriage. In fact, researchers found that the simple act of saying “thank you” to your partner regularly can be powerful enough to protect a couple’s divorce proneness.
Really get to know your partner.
Couples who communicate are 62 percent more likely to describe their relationship as happy, according to the book "100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships". Emotional, personal information exchange promotes powerful feelings of connection. Asking and answering the right questions can create a lifelong bond in just one hour. Arthur Aron, a psychologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, wanted to know how people formed romantic relationships. He crafted a set of 36 questions crafted to make participants rapidly develop deep levels of intimacy. In the lab, two of Aron's participants went on to get married after this. This shows how much communication with your partner really changes your relationship.
Listen to music together.
A 2013 study out of Freie University Berlin found that music helps our ability to connect with others. Music impacts the parts of the brain involved in empathy, trust, and cooperation, all of which are conducive to building a healthy relationship. Another 2009 study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing also found that listening to music can also release oxytocin. Patients who listened to "soothing" music for just 30 minutes were found to have higher levels of oxytocin than those who didn't. Since oxytocin is the bonding hormone, listening to some music with your partner is sure to deepen your connection.
Post less on social media.
According to researchers from Haverford College, the more insecure someone is feeling in a relationship then the more likely they are to post to social media for some kind of validation. This can make your bond with your partner worse, not better. By all means, post the adorable snap of you two on vacation, but if you or your partner are oversharing on the internet about your relationship, then maybe take a look at what’s really going on between you two.
Do something together that scares you.
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching, said: "Research has shown that when couples engage in a novel activity together that heightens their senses and gets their juices flowing, it creates strong feelings of sexual and romantic attraction." This can be anything from watching a scary movie to going on a thrill ride together. Doing novel things together also has long-term benefits, because it provides couples with more shared experiences and conversation material.
Kiss more often.
A study conducted on chimpanzees showed that the kiss is a much more powerful bonding element than we thought. It even provokes powerful physical changes. For example, a passionate kiss can trigger a chain of chemical reactions involving hormones and neurotransmitters. Dopamine is one of the most powerful neurotransmitters that kissing unleashes. Adrenaline and serotonin are also activated by a kiss. When these are activated, you feel a deeper connection with your partner.
Be your partner's number one fan.
An illuminating study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that the way couples react to each other’s good news is vital to a long-lasting relationship. Responding with excitement will have a much different effect on your partnership than if you responded with pride or indifference. The news doesn’t have to be about the big stuff, either. Did your partner beat their swim lap record by three seconds? Then give them a high five. Support will make you grow together.
Pretend you are on a first date.
On first dates we make an effort and effort draws people together. Across a series of studies, participants underestimated how good they would feel in situations that required them to put their best face forward. When given the challenge to focus on how they presented themselves, people felt happier engaging with their romantic partner than those not given that instruction. In a nutshell, actually putting effort into being your best self will help your relationship be stronger.
All relationships go through phases, there will be good times and challenges. When you recognize that your relationship is in a rough spot, take heart. Great relationships don’t happen by luck. There are specific skills and actions that strengthen our relationships. Hopefully, these tips will help you feel stronger than ever before.