7 STEPS TO A GREAT RELATIONSHIP
THE HAPPIEST COUPLES ARE THOSE WHO MAKE THE EFFORT TO CONNECT. Katherine Chatfield REPORTS
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