It’s easy enough to get married. But staying together for the long haul? Let's just say it isn't always a piece of cake. So, if you've been catching yourself pining after the “honeymoon phase,” this article is for you.
Below, find 12 quick fixes—or “love hacks,” as defined by psychologist Eli Finkel in his book, The All-or-Nothing Marriage—that’ll quickly improve your relationship if you put them into practice.
#1: Don’t jump to conclusions
If your partner does something wrong, like turning up late to a date, don’t automatically attribute it to a permanent inner flaw (“They’re too selfish to care about my time”).
Instead, take a few seconds to consider an alternative explanation that removes the blame (e.g., "Their boss may have piled additional work on them at the last minute, or they ran into traffic").
#2: Believe in the good of your partner
Did your partner do something nice for you?
Instead of separating your partner from the behavior (e.g., buying you a gift) and treating it as a one-off event (“They must have felt guilty about turning up late to dinner last night”), treat it as generally characteristic of them (“They bought me a gift because they’re considerate and kind-hearted”).
#3: Touch your partner
It doesn’t even have to lead anything more—small touches such as hand-holding (in a warm, comfortable, and positive way) can help your partner feel more confident about being loved.
#4: Practice gratitude
Take time to practice gratitude for your partner's contributions to the relationship (e.g., staying up late to care for the kids so you can rest).
Beyond boosting your commitment to your marriage, this time-friendly “love hack”—which is easily and quickly done in the shower or while brushing your teeth before bed—could increase your partner’s positive feelings toward you, kickstarting a loop of mutual gratitude, kindness, and commitment.
#5: Celebrate your partner’s victories
When your partner shares something good about their day, get excited about it—no matter how insignificant it may seem to you. Ask questions, and put (genuine) enthusiasm into your voice and reactions.
In addition to helping your partner take more pleasure from their victory, delighting in good news together can also increase feelings of trust, intimacy, and satisfaction in the relationship for both parties.
#6: Prioritize your marriage
Instead of treating everything else as the priority (work, kids, friends, etc.) and squeezing your spouse into the pockets of spare time—if it even exists—seek to do the opposite. Your marriage has a higher chance of succeeding when you give it the time of day. Quite literally.
#7: Be emotionally present
There's little use spending time with your partner if you're emotionally absent (e.g., daydreaming, scrolling through social media, disengaging from conversations). Remember: be present.
#8: Inject new activities and interests into your relationship
Engaging in novel and exciting activities together can help keep your marriage fresh, satisfying, and passionate (note: couples are 36% more likely to have sex on the day of those shared experiences—wink, wink).
And as for what counts as a "novel and exciting" activity, there are two criteria: 1) it must be something both partners are happy to try, and 2) it’s non-related to the mundanities of everyday life.
#9: Socialize with your partner
Socializing with your partner and other people is particularly relationship-enhancing—but only if the experience is fun and intimate (think: deep, meaningful conversations instead of small talk).
#10: Picture a fight as a neutral third party
The key to marital satisfaction lies in how you frame conflicts.
More specifically, thinking about any disagreement from the perspective of a neutral third party (who wants the best for all parties involved) could help you feel less upset and angry—encouraging you to take the necessary steps to resolve the conflict in a meaningful way.
#11: Accept a compliment
Instead of being quick to dismiss and discount your partner's affection (because you’re skeptical that your partner loves you or is genuine), accept it. Find that challenging?
Rather than thinking about the compliment as relevant to an isolated event (e.g., “They’re just in a good mood today”), consider why they admire you—and what the compliment signifies about the relationship (e.g., “I’m beautiful and worthy of love, and my partner is as invested in the relationship as I am”).
#12: Adopt a growth mindset
Ditch the black-and-white mentality that you’re either soulmates or not. Instead, adopt a growth mindset in your marriage; view conflicts and other relationship difficulties as opportunities to learn more about each other and nurture a stronger relationship.
To apply this to your marriage, take a few minutes every month to think about instances where overcoming an obstacle made your marriage stronger.
Consider professional help when necessary
With all that said, it’s important to note that you can’t “love hack” your way out of an abusive (physically or emotionally) marriage.
Do seek professional counseling and help if need be. Not all marriages can—nor should be—saved.
Hannah Smith is Joy Organics Director of Communications. She is driven by her passion for providing clear and accessible wellness and CBD education. In 2015, she received her BA in Media, Culture and the Arts from The King’s College in New York City and before Joy Organics, worked as writer and photographer in the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Vice, Vox, Denver Post, and the Coloradoan.