Had a fight? Count to 10 before changing your Facebook status. New world, new rules to make love work now.
By Elise Nersesian-Solé
Put Yourself First
People who spend time bettering themselves have happier unions than those who always put their partner’s needs first. “When you develop your own interests (cooking, learning a foreign language), you have more to teach the other person,” says Gary Lewandowski Jr., Ph.D., of Monmouth University in New Jersey. “Your bond will improve because you’re adding new layers and depth to it.”
Fast sex may seem unromantic, but short bursts of passion keep you bonded because they release dopamine and oxytocin, two chemicals that trigger loving feelings. “If you’re having regular sex and stoking those neurochemicals, it doesn’t have to be amazing every time,” says sex therapist Ian Kerner.
Do Go to Bed Angry
Research conducted at the University of California, San Diego, found that people often solve ongoing problems during REM. “When people sleep, the brain reshuffles memories, combining old associations and new ideas to come up with solutions,” says study author Sara Mednick, Ph.D.
Respect Your Relationship’s Privacy
When you fight with your guy, do you vent online? Couples who post TMI photos or feud on Facebook make everyone uneasy. “If a couple seems overly happy, they may be trying to compensate for insecurities,” says Bethany Marshall, Ph.D., author of Deal Breakers. “Or it could be passive-aggressive—tweeting a complaint is easier than dealing with it directly.”
Avoid Toxic Friends
If your coupled-up pals are always fighting, it may sound irrelevant to your marriage, but research from Brown University says if your close friends split up, you are very likely to do so as well. Likewise, if your coworker, friend, or sibling parts ways with their partner, you have a 33 percent chance of following suit.
Unplug After Work
“When you’re always working, there’s no division between the office and home, which increases stress in the relationship,” says Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of The Secrets of Happily Married Women. Set a time limit for work, then unwind together before bed.
Mopping and scrubbing are necessary in any household, but get this: Husbands do fewer chores than live-in boyfriends. Sociologists surmise that social norms are more defined in marriage than in dating relationships. If dirty dishes cause tension, cut back spending each week so you can hire a cleaning service, then use the newfound time you have for something fun.
Get a Prenup
“It’s a backup plan offering protection in case of divorce,” says Peter Morris, a New York state matrimonial lawyer. “Prenups open a dialogue about the type of lifestyle you want, how many kids you’ll have, even what your core values are.” Prenups are even more key when the woman is the breadwinner because if the marriage ends, she may lose a large chunk of her earnings and 50 percent of joint marital assets. Already hitched? Consider a postnup, the postmarital version of the deal.
Call a Money Summit
Couples don’t usually split because they don’t have enough cash, but because they can’t agree on how to manage it. “Discussing your finances each month is crucial,” says financial adviser Manisha Thakor. Do you pool your money or separate it? Do you know how much each of you has at any given time? Airing your finances regularly will sync you two for the long haul.