Sunday Herald Sun - Body and Soul - - RELATIONSHIPS -

The se­cret to a happy mar­riage? Four hugs a day, two cosy nights in a week and clean­ing the house three times a month, ac­cord­ing to a study in the UK. The study of 4000 cou­ples shows 98 per cent of part­ners who reg­u­larly par­take in these ac­tiv­i­ties rate them­selves as “very happy,” with 94 per cent be­liev­ing their re­la­tion­ship is stronger than that of other cou­ples. The study shows cou­ples that stick to­gether fol­low these fig­ures.

But don’t get car­ried away, she warns. “Hugs shouldn’t al­ways lead to sex. They should be purely for con­nec­tion and help­ing you re­lax. It’s im­por­tant to show phys­i­cal af­fec­tion with­out be­ing sex­ual.”

Do it by: Tak­ing it slowly. “Some peo­ple find phys­i­cal af­fec­tion dif­fi­cult when it’s been missing from the re­la­tion­ship for a long time,” says ed­u­ca­tional psy­chol­o­gist Dr Lud­wig Lowen­stein, who backed up the UK study. “Start by sit­ting next to each other on the sofa. Next time, hold hands. Then try hug­ging. The more you do it, the more nat­u­ral it feels. It’s pos­si­ble to train the brain to learn this sort of be­hav­iour so it be­comes a habit.” PROPER CON­VER­SA­TION: 1.5 a week Keep­ing lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open in a longterm re­la­tion­ship is es­sen­tial, says McCormack: “When you’ve been with your part­ner for years, it’s easy to as­sume you know ev­ery­thing about them. But peo­ple’s am­bi­tions and opin­ions change. If you don’t make time to talk, it’s easy to drift apart. Reg­u­larly dis­cussing what’s new in each other’s lives helps keep you con­nected and aware of how each other is feel­ing.”

Do it by: “Make a rule where you have at least two min­utes of un­in­ter­rupted eye con­tact with your part­ner ev­ery day,” says McCormack. “Dur­ing this time, talk and lis­ten to each other with­out be­ing dis­tracted. Two min­utes is the min­i­mum – the longer the bet­ter!”

COSY NIGHTS IN: 2 a week each other pro­vides a safety net in the re­la­tion­ship… each part­ner knows they can rely on the other. This is a nur­tur­ing and ef­fec­tive way of main­tain­ing a happy re­la­tion­ship.”

Do it by: En­joy­ing the si­lence. “You don’t al­ways have to talk. Some­times just sit­ting to­gether can cre­ate a feel­ing of close­ness,” Dr Lowen­stein says.

DATES: 1 a fort­night

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