Lyndsay Rush
July 30, 2014 7:17 am

“Love Nuggets” may sound like your late-night relationship with fast food, but in the UK, it’s something else entirely: a government-funded campaign to help couples avoid a split.

That’s right: the Department of Education is funding a project (run by charity, OnePlusOne) that encourages couples to do relationship-nurturing things like, “make cups of tea for each other; leave notes around the house for a spouse to find; or take their other half to the cinema even when they don’t want to see the film themselves.” The goal being to build into your relationship before it reaches its breaking point, instead of relying on crisis management. The campaign will offer a ‘love nuggets generator’ which will provide couples with random suggestions to spice things up.

While some of their suggestions seem a little shallow (and mildly sexist?) the heart of the project—“to uncover and celebrate the everyday things people do that make a happy relationship”—is one worth thinking about.

It can be be hard to keep that insane, butterfly-fluttering, crush feeling when you’re in a long-term relationship. No matter how much you love a person, ruts happen. So what are some non-cheesy, totally simple ways to keep those so-called sparks sparking? We turned to a few experts for guidance, natch, and found some solid advice. Chemistry, ahoy!

1. You do you.

Yes, togetherness is the name of the game, but separateness, or individuality, is a key ingredient in keeping your relationship healthy and happy. Deborah Hecker, Ph.D suggests ditching the ‘you complete me’ idea and instead asking yourself questions like, “What is important to me?” and “What are the traditions/hobbies I want to keep?” Couples who respect one another’s boundaries and independence have stronger relationships, so get back to taking those hip hop lessons or that solo trip you planned once upon a time; your relationship will be better for it.

2. Be spontaneous.

According to sex therapist Esther Perel’s Ted Talk, long-term relationships draw out two conflicting needs in us: that for security and that for surprise. She suggests adding some new moves to your repertoire, whether that’s in the bedroom, or in the everyday. Her research suggests that spontaneity and novelty are great ways of sustaining desire in a relationship. So when that predictable schedule or way of doing things rears its head, try switching it up and see what happens. Remember and foster your adventurous and curious side.

3. Celebrate good times COME ON

The pros have found that a big reason for divorce among couples is feeling underappreciated by their spouse. So the antidote? Simple: support, appreciate, and cheer on your partner in the big and little things. The reason this is so big, according to research by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is that couples whose spouses are supportive when things are going well, believe largely that they will then be supportive when things go poorly. “Just the perception that there would be support during bad times increased their emotional intimacy, trust and marital satisfaction,” said the co-author of the study, Shelly Gable. That feels like a winner to me!

4. Act like you just met

I’m not talking role play here (unless you’re into that), but a key for a lot of happy couples, according to relationship author Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., is to make a habit of small, daily check-ins that may at first seem shallow or obvious. (“How is your day going?” “What are you up to?”) But, since people change so much over time, these exploratory questions lead to continued connection with your partner and a deeper understanding of them.

5. Don’t win an Oscar

I’m serious. There is a spooky statistic dug up by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University that a Best Actress winner is “63 % more likely to have her marriage end before her category mates do.” Same with nominees, 60% of whom (male or female) go through at least one divorce after being nominated. Clearly, it’s about more than acting ability, this is probably due to sudden “one-sided” success, but either way, avoid the Academy at all costs, people.

6. If you’re gonna booze, booze together.

Researchers at the University at Buffalo and University of Missouri discovered that when it came to alcohol, it wasn’t so much about how much you drink that impacts your relationship, it’s whether you’re doing it with your partner, or alone: “It turns out that drinking together rather than apart is clearly good for relationships,” according to the study’s researchers. “Individuals who drink with their partner report feeling increased intimacy and decreased relationship problems the next day, compared to individuals who drink apart from their partner or do not drink at all.” I’ll drink to that.

There you have it, lovers. The happy relationship cat is out of the bag and he is drinking, adventuring, celebrating, and role-playing (just not well enough to get nominated for an Oscar).

(Featured image via)

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