What's the secret to a happy and long-lasting marriage for busy professionals? No different than anybody else. It's learning to connect to each other and, yes, even putting your partner's needs ahead of your own at times.

But if your partnership is being tested right now by too much conflict and not "being on the same page," don't ignore the problem or withdraw from each other.

Whether you're about to tie the knot or have been in the game for 20+ years, here are five strategies--backed by science--that will rekindle the romance, create more happiness, and hopefully spark up other things.

1. Spend quality time on home projects.

Porch, the network where homeowners and home professionals connect, surveyed 910 people who are currently in a relationship or married and living together to determine which home factors matter the most.

Remodeling a home scored high. Slightly over half of those surveyed said they took on bathroom and bedroom renovations with their live-in partner, and just under half said kitchen renovations were another popular home project.

When it came to changing the bedroom, 54 percent of men and 50 percent of women said their relationship improved. At least half of men also mentioned kitchen, front porch, and living room projects as relationship-satisfaction boosters.

2. Get plenty of sleep.

A large body of research has found that sleep deprivation can impair cognitive function, making it harder to be creative, stay focused on work, complete tasks on time, and generally keep up a high level of performance. How do you think not getting adequate amounts of sleep will impact your marriage? 

In The Happy Couple, author Barton Goldsmith cites a study from the University of California, Berkeley that looked at the sleep habits of more than 100 couples. Those who reported poor sleep were much more likely to argue with their significant other.

In a separate study, scientists asked 43 married couples to "discuss and try to resolve" a contentious issue like money (in other words, they asked them to fight). Lack of sleep was linked to bigger and angrier fights. If both partners got less than seven hours of sleep the previous two nights, their discussions were more likely to become hostile.

3. Put your smartphone to bed before you lie down.

What are the chances that, as you read this, your partner is lying next to you in bed scrolling Facebook and ignoring you (and vice-versa)? If every night the routine is to get into bed to engage your device rather than your partner, it's time to unplug.

One Brigham Young University study that included 143 married or cohabiting women concluded that "technoference" can be damaging to a relationship. Study participants reported that phones and other tech devices were significantly disruptive in their relationships, resulting in greater relationship conflict and lower relationship satisfaction. 

The study is one of the first to report that a person's engagement with technology can actually make their partner depressed.

Why? When your partner pays more attention to the phone instead of you, it feels like rejection, and that's painful to the point of your mental health being affected. 

4. Befriend other couples.

We are wired for socializing with people who share similar values, interests, and goals to our own. It makes sense, then, for couples to actively befriend other couples like them. Now there's evidence that doing so will help boost your marriage.

In the book, Two Plus Two: Couples and Their Couple Friendships, co-authors Geoffrey Greif and Kathleen Holtz Deal say that those married couples who actively seek out friendships with other couples benefit emotionally from the support, comfort, and excitement stemming from these group relationships. "We can talk about anything we want to," one couple said in the book. "We have shared sad times and good times."

5. Get an outside perspective on what's really going on.

Think of it like conducting a 360-degree review on yourself and your marriage. In business, such an evaluation from a variety of sources helps to assess an employee or leader's performance.

In a marriage or partnership, getting some outside perspective and feedback can be just as beneficial; that is, if you're open to receiving constructive criticism from objective friends and family (your mother notwithstanding).

When those you trust tell it like it is without any heat or personal agenda, and give you the facts as they see them, it may open your eyes to some new possibilities.

Published on: Sep 14, 2019
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